Office of the President
Subject: New Vaccination and Mask Agreements – An Update from President Clark
Dear campus community,
It is very heartening to see students, faculty, librarians and staff back on campus at BSU. I am confident that we have done everything feasible to keep our students and entire BSU community as safe as possible during this immensely challenging period. This week alone, our friends in Operations have distributed 20,000 masks across campus and 375 containers of disinfectant wipes to all general-purpose classrooms and labs, event spaces, residence halls and university departments. They have cleaned and disinfected more than 106,000 square feet of classrooms, more than 160,000 square feet of labs, and more than 220,000 square feet of study and office space, and also have certified 50 fume hoods and 10 Bio-Safety cabinets ensuring that appropriate ventilation standards are met.
As part of our commitment to putting safety first, I am very pleased to announce that Bridgewater State University – along with the eight other state universities - has reached agreements with all three unions on campus for both vaccine and mask mandates. As a result, all employees will be required to be fully vaccinated and must comply with the university’s indoor mask requirement unless they have received a vaccine exemption or mask accommodation.
Seven separate memorandums of agreement (MOAs) were reached with the Massachusetts State College Association (MSCA), Association of Professional Administrators (APA) and the American Federation of State and County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). I want to thank our three unions and their leadership for working collaboratively with BSU and the other universities in securing these agreements that are so vital to the health and safety of everyone in our BSU community.
The implementation schedule for each of the unions is slightly different as a result of when agreement was reached on the MOAs. Faculty and librarians, with the exception of those teaching in the evening, needed to receive their first vaccination by September 1 and be fully vaccinated (two weeks after receiving their final dose) by October 15. APA members need to receive their first vaccination by September 7 and be fully vaccinated no later than October 19. AFSCME members must receive their first vaccination by September 15 and be fully vaccinated by October 27. Per my previous announcement, all non-unit professionals/employees (NUPs) were required to be vaccinated (or granted an exemption) and submit an attestation by August 31.
As a result of the MOAs, all employees must complete the employee vaccination attestation form; this is no longer voluntary. As of today, vaccination attestation percentages for our three unions and non-unit colleagues are updated as follows:
AFSCME - 68%
MSCA - 75%
APA - 91%
Non-Unit - 100%
Clearly, we have more work to do in terms of vaccination attestation compliance, and Human Resources/Talent Management has already been in touch with each relevant person to alert them as to the statewide collective bargaining public health agreements as well as their corresponding individual obligations.
In addition, employees in all three unions are now required to comply with BSU’s mask mandate for indoor public spaces for as long as the university requirement remains in effect.
All employees can request an exemption from the vaccine mandate due to medical reasons or sincerely held religious beliefs. In cases where those exemptions are granted by the university, employees must participate in weekly COVID-19 testing, either through the Wellness Center or by submitting negative test results. (Exempted students also are mandated to be tested weekly and failure to do so will result in student disciplinary action.) Employees may also request a medical masking accommodation through the ADA process.
There are strict consequences for refusal to be vaccinated or wear a mask. Most importantly, anyone who refuses to be vaccinated will not be permitted to work or be present on campus. There are different provisions in each MOA for employees to utilize accrued time or take unpaid leave, but these are subject to time limitations. Failure to comply with BSU’s mask requirement is subject to progressive discipline specified in each MOA.
Our preference is for members of our community to gently educate each other about responsible health and safety behavior. Recognizing that this may be challenging or uncomfortable, we have established two places where individuals not following recommended health guidelines can be reported: for students – Incident Report Form; and for BSU employees – firstname.lastname@example.org.
Every member of our community has a responsibility to every other member. That is truly the definition of a community. In being vaccinated and wearing a mask indoors, we are protecting not only ourselves and each other, but also fulfilling a shared obligation to control and ultimately defeat this stubborn pandemic. Our ability to be together again and return to the BSU we knew prior to March 2020 is dependent on each of us doing our part.
As always, we’ve got this!
Frederick W. Clark Jr., Esq.