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URI issues COVID-19 vaccine mandate for faculty, some staff

All faculty and non-classified staff will have to provide proof of vaccination by Oct. 15; those who request an exemption will be subject to twice-weekly testing and certain restrictions

A sign on the campus of the University of Rhode Island, in South Kingstown, R.I., Wednesday, July 1, 2020. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)Steven Senne/Associated Press

The University of Rhode Island announced Thursday that it will require all faculty and non-classified staff to provide proof of a COVID-19 vaccination by Oct. 15, or request a medical or religious exemption.

Employees who get exemptions have to do twice-weekly surveillance testing and remain physically distanced from others, the state university said. Unvaccinated staff will also be required to quarantine or isolate if they’re exposed to or test positive for COVID-19.

The URI chapter of the American Association of University Professors said Wednesday they’d agreed to the vaccine requirement, removing one hurdle that public and private employers have faced for vaccine rules: collective bargaining with unions.


Faculty and non-classified staff who are licensed health providers will have to follow the rules set out by the state Department of Health, which recently said workers must be barred from state-licensed health care facilities if they’re not vaccinated and don’t have a medical exemption by Oct. 1. Unvaccinated health care workers may also face licensure problems. There are no religious exemptions in the state’s mandate.

URI says its staffers should upload their proof of vaccination online on the patient portal. It will accept proof of any currently authorized vaccine in the United States, which includes the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine or the two-shot Moderna or Pfizer vaccines. Faculty and staff have to have both doses of the two-shot vaccines to meet the requirement, the university says.

The university will host free vaccination clinics on its Kingston campus through the end of September. The first day of classes is Sept. 8.

Though the mandate doesn’t apply to classified employees, URI is asking those staffers to voluntarily upload their COVID-19 vaccine certificates “to help create and maintain a safe work environment.”

Non-classified employees include faculty, professional, executive, and administrative staff. Classified employees include people in service, maintenance, dining, clerical, fiscal support, and technical or paraprofessional roles.


Brian Amaral can be reached at brian.amaral@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @bamaral44.