UAB announced plans to make masking indoors optional for vaccinated individuals in non-clinical settings in the spring semester based on transmission levels upon returning and suspended the vaccine mandate following a federal court order.
“At this time, it is our hope the circumstances will allow us to make indoor masking in non-clinical campus buildings optional for vaccinated individuals as we begin 2022, but that will depend on the latest community transmission data and the safety recommendations that emerge as we learn more about the omicron variant,” the email sent on Dec. 8 said.
There will also be no remote or hybrid courses offered in the spring semester. Only the face-to-face, fully online and few blended course formats that have been offered since before the COVID-19 pandemic will be available.
“Be assured that we will continue to monitor COVID variants, community transmission and vaccine rates, and work with public health and infectious disease experts to maintain a safe campus,” the email said.
The university will also announced the vaccine requirement is suspended as a result of the federal mandate being suspended on Nov. 30, 2021. UAB will no longer be required to take action with unvaccinated employees on Jan. 4.
“Because the ultimate outcome of legal challenges is not decided, we will continue to closely monitor legal developments and provide guidance to employees,” the Dec. 7 email said. “If the injunctions are lifted by the courts, UAB must be ready to comply with federal requirements.”
UAB asked employees, including student employees, to still submit proof of vaccination or request an exemption. By doing so now before the order is potentially resumed it ensures exemption requests can be processed on time. It is also data the university needs to make decisions for the campus safety strategies.
As of Oct. 22, 92% of UAB employees and 67% of students have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine based on the UA system COVID-19 dashboard.
“We remain encouraged by the high vaccination rates reported among faculty, staff and students and continue to urge others to take advantage of the free vaccines,” the Dec. 7 email said. “The protection afforded by the vaccine has been essential in keeping positive case numbers low.”