UPDATE: Here are the Virginia universities reversing their COVID vaccine mandates

Several public universities in Virginia are ceasing student vaccine mandates due to Attorney General Jason Miyares' recent statement.

Governor Glenn Youngkin's recent executive order affected mandates for state employees.

Yesterday, Campus Reform reported that public Virginia universities are now reversing their student vaccine mandates after Attorney General Jason Miyares said such requirements violate Virginia state law. 

That statement followed Governor Glenn Youngkin’s Jan. 15 executive order, which suspended employee vaccine mandates. 

Here are the schools that have to date reversed their vaccine mandate.

(Updated Feb. 1, 2022)

James Madison University

Campus Reform obtained a Feb. 1 email from university leadership to the school community announcing that the mandate has been discontinued.

”[W]e are no longer requiring individual students or employees to obtain COVID-19 vaccinations—although we continue to strongly recommend that members of the campus community get vaccinated and upload the documentation as an important measure to protect personal and public health. Significant and compelling medical data demonstrates that the vaccines are highly effective at preventing serious illness and death among those who contract COVID-19,” the email reads. 

Prior to Miyares’ statement, James Madison University’s website outlined student vaccine requirements as a stipulation for living on campus and attending classes. Proof of vaccination for the spring semester was required to be submitted by Dec. 13.

”JMU requires students to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 prior to moving onto campus or attending classes, except as noted in the exemptions section below,” the policy read. “This includes undergraduate, graduate and part-time students who attend in-person classes, studies, research or activities.”

Virginia Tech

Prior to the AG’s statement, Virginia Tech’s website read, “All students must be vaccinated. Any person who is enrolled as a student is required to be vaccinated, [and] receive a booster when eligible.” 

As of yesterday, the same webpage has been modified to read, “While not required, Virginia Tech students and employees are encouraged to be vaccinated, get a booster dose, and to report their vaccination status to the university.”

George Mason University

Prior to the AG’s legal opinion, George Mason University’s website read, “For the safety of our community, Mason will require vaccines for all students, faculty, and staff, and to share verification of their vaccination status to work, study, and live on campus.” 

As of yesterday, George Mason president Gregory Washington released a letter on behalf of the school announcing the mandate would cease, initially citing that they are “winning the battle” against Covid-19 before mentioning the AG’s legal address.

”At long last, it can be said: George Mason University is winning the battle against COVID-19. We have not won yet, but we are close... Given our high vaccination rate, the continued decline of the omicron variant, the Governor’s recent executive orders and directives, and the recent Attorney General’s opinion, we will now strongly encourage vaccination protocols for all Mason students, faculty, and staff, though we no longer require them,” he said. 

University of Virginia

On Jan. 26, UVA’s vaccination page outlined mandatory vaccines for all “UVA Health team members” as well as all students “who live, learn, or work in person” at the school. 

But on Jan. 15, Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin issued an Executive Directive barring public universities from requiring Covid vaccines for employees. 

Due to this EO, along with Miyares’ legal opinion, UVA’s website now clarifies that vaccination is now optional.

”While a strong majority of UVA employees are fully vaccinated and have received booster shots, any employee who is not fully vaccinated or boosted (once eligible) is strongly encouraged to get vaccinated or boosted as soon as possible,” its website states.

Most recently, UVA issued a statement eliminating the vaccine requirement in response to Miyares’ advisory statement. 

”Last Friday, the Virginia attorney general issued an advisory opinion indicating that public colleges and universities do not have the legal authority to mandate COVID-19 vaccines for students as a condition of enrollment or in-person attendance,” UVA President Jim Ryan said.

Due to the university’s 99% vaccination rate, along with its mandate deadline having already passed, Ryan called the reversal “moot.” 

Campus Reform will be monitoring college and university responses to AG Miyares’ legal opinion. This article will be updated accordingly.

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