Southwest Virginia colleges divided on requiring employees to be vaccinated

Local Coronavirus Coverage

WISE, Va. (WJHL) – Institutions of higher learning are split in Southwest Virginia on whether or not they will require faculty and staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

The University of Virginia’s College at Wise is among those that will require all of its employees to be vaccinated.

According to Genna Kasun, UVA Wise’s Associate Vice Chancellor of Marketing and Communications, the university is mandating all employees be vaccinated. Kasun cited Governor Ralph Northam’s executive directive, which states higher education institutions must mandate them.

Southwest Virginia Community College will also be requiring its employees to be vaccinated, according to SVCC Director of Strategic Communications John Dezember.

Dezember said in a statement that since the university employees are considered state workers, they will be required to be vaccinated by September 1. You can see the full statement below:

Last week, Virginia Governor Ralf Northam announced an Executive Directive requiring all state workers to either be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by September 1, 2021, or undergo weekly COVID-19 testing. As an entity of the Commonwealth of Virginia, the order extends to Southwest Virginia Community College faculty, staff, part-time employees, and contractors who enter the workplace or have public-facing duties. Employees who are not fully vaccinated by this date or refuse disclosure of vaccination status will be required to provide evidence of weekly negative COVID test results. The order includes an exemption for medical and religious reasons; those employees, if approved, must provide evidence of weekly negative COVID test results.

John Dezember, Director of Stategic Communications at Southwest Virginia Community College

Meanwhile, one of Southwest Virginia’s private colleges will not be requiring employees to be vaccinated.

Emory & Henry College is “strongly encouraging vaccines,” but is not requiring faculty and staff to be vaccinated.

Jennifer Pearce, Emory & Henry’s Vice President for Enrollment Management and External Affairs, said in a statement that more than half of the college’s faculty and staff community is already vaccinated. Pearce said those numbers continue to climb, as of Monday.

News Channel 11 has also reached out to Virginia Highlands Community College to see if the school will require employees to be vaccinated. As of Monday afternoon, VHCC has not responsed.

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