Bipartisan Group of Leaders and Health Experts Urge Institutions of Higher Education to Establish #COVIDSafeZones
Public health officials and national leaders call on U.S. institutions of higher education to keep institutions open and safe for student learning by taking additional measures against the Delta variant
Many institutions of higher education are taking steps to maximize vaccinations and implement risk mitigation within their communities in order to become “COVIDSafeZones.”
August 17, 2021, Washington, D.C. In a new letter to America’s institutions of higher education, a bipartisan group of leaders, public health experts, higher education experts, and former officials from multiple administrations are seeking the help of college and university leaders to require vaccinations where possible and take steps to keep their campus communities safe and prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The letter, provided by the COVID Collaborative, commends the progress made by colleges and universities to reduce the spread of COVID-19 throughout the course of the pandemic, while emphasizing the need to maximize vaccinations and layered prevention strategies as the highly contagious Delta variant spreads across the country. The letter indicates that requiring vaccination is the best way to keep campuses safe, but if that is not the approach taken, recommends regular testing, incentives such as tuition payments, gift cards, paid leave for faculty and staff, or the ability to bypass other safety protocols, such as regular infection screening for those who offer proof of vaccination.
“We want to keep colleges and universities open for student learning,” said Mark McClellan, Director, Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy and former FDA Commissioner and Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator. “But to do so, we must do it in a way that will keep everyone safe. These steps by campuses will protect not only the students, faculty, and staff, but also individuals living in the communities that house these campuses.”
A wide variety of institutions of higher education have already taken steps and are implementing these recommendations, including over 700 campuses that have implemented a COVID-19 vaccine requirement and many others that have put robust public health mitigation strategies in place, such as regular testing.
“The Delta variant is a serious risk to campuses, which by their nature are high-risk congregate settings for infectious disease transmission,” said Andy Slavitt, Former White House Senior Advisor for COVID-19 response and former Acting Administrator for the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services. “The measures put in place by institutions of higher education throughout the pandemic have saved lives and we urge more colleges and universities to implement the recommendations outlined in today’s letter.”
“More than 19 million students attend our nation’s colleges and universities,” said John Bridgeland, Co-Founder and CEO of the COVID Collaborative. “Higher education can play an outsized role in keeping our students, faculty, and country safe.”
The letter is available on COVIDCollaborative.us.
The COVID Collaborative is a national assembly of experts, leaders and institutions in health, education and the economy and associations representing the diversity of the country to turn the tide on the pandemic by supporting federal, state, and local COVID-19 response efforts.
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