Penn State Opens Requests For Religious COVID-19 Vaccine Exemptions

Penn State employees can now request religious exemptions to the university’s new COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

Faculty and staff who fall under Penn State’s vaccine mandate can submit an online request for an exemption if they believe their religious beliefs, practices, or observances would prevent them from getting vaccinated. Forms must be submitted on or before Friday, October 29. Approval by Penn State’s Affirmative Action Office isn’t guaranteed.

Approved religious accommodations will remain in effect through June 2022. Employees will need to submit another request should the requirements remain in place next summer.

“Penn State is committed to providing a safe, inclusive, and supportive experience for all and recognizes true and genuine observances of faith and beliefs as they pertain to immunization for members of the university community,” Penn State said in a statement.

Employees who want to request vaccination exemptions for medical or disability-related reasons should hear more about that process in the coming weeks. For now, the online request form covers only religious accommodations.

Faculty and staff at seven Penn State campuses — University Park, Altoona, Behrend, Brandywine, DuBois, Fayette, and Harrisburg — must submit proof of vaccination to the university by December 8. Penn State’s mandate comes as the university attempts to comply with President Joe Biden’s September 9 executive order that requires vaccinations for all federal employees, contractors, and more.

Penn State joins more than 1,000 college campuses that already require COVID-19 vaccinations for employees in one way or another, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education. Ten Big Ten schools, including Ohio State, Michigan, and Rutgers, already have mandates in place, although some let students and employees bypass vaccinations if they get tested regularly.

According to Penn State’s COVID-19 Dashboard, more than 81% of employees across the seven campuses have submitted proof of vaccination. Those who haven’t verified their full vaccination are required to get tested for COVID-19 weekly.

For the most up-to-date information on Penn State’s COVID-19 policies, visit its dedicated website.

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About the Author

Matt DiSanto

Matt proudly served as Onward State’s managing editor for two years until graduating from Penn State in May 2022. Now, he’s off in the real world doing real things. Send him an email ([email protected]) or follow him on Twitter (@mattdisanto_) to stay in touch.

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