This message was sent to WPI employees.
As we enter the new academic year, it is both exciting and rewarding to see our campus once again bustling with students, faculty, and staff. Living, learning, and working together has been our goal, and it is what we must continue to protect throughout this new academic year. I hope you are all drawing energy from our students, who are thrilled to be back on campus, and are enjoying reconnecting with colleagues as we start the year. Thanks for all you have done to get us to this point—so much closer to normal than last year.
Moving forward, we will continue to follow the latest science and learn from our own data, while keeping the health and safety of this community as our North Star. As the pandemic evolves, we learn more every day, and we must adjust our approach as necessary to help protect all members of our campus community while providing the highest quality educational experience for our students.
While WPI is fortunate to have a very high vaccination rate, the Delta variant is worryingly contagious, and we already know that we are not immune to its impact. Although these are early days, new data indicates the need for an important adjustment: Given the increased threat from the Delta variant, WPI will expand our vaccine requirement to include all employees who access campus. The deadline for vaccination is October 11, 2021. Click HERE to read the Employee Vaccine Requirement
In the week leading up to the start of classes, WPI’s onboarding and routine testing program detected 11 cases of COVID-19, all of which were quickly isolated and contact-traced by our Health Team. Nearly half of those cases were composed of unvaccinated individuals; that’s remarkable when you consider that only about four percent of our population is unvaccinated, and it demonstrates a clear threat to our community.
WPI must do even more to help protect our entire community, especially those who are at higher risk due to medical issues, who may have decreased immunity to COVID even if they were vaccinated, or who live with higher risk family members not eligible to receive a vaccine due to age or medical conditions. Approved COVID-19 vaccines are widely available and provide excellent protection, and now with the recent full FDA approval of the Pfizer vaccine, the time has come to require all community members to take this step in protecting their own health and the health of the larger community. Precautions such as required vaccination add important layers to the protective measures that will allow WPI to hold in-person classes and activities this year.
- WPI will now require that all university employees and all other individuals in WPI’s COVID-19 testing protocol complete their COVID-19 vaccine series (i.e., two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine) and enter their vaccination information into Workday on or before October 11, 2021.
- This applies to WPI employees, Chartwells and Dunkin’ Donuts employees, research affiliates, visiting scholars, and all other individuals in WPI’s COVID-19 testing protocol.
- Employees classified as fully remote are not required to be vaccinated; however, unvaccinated fully remote employees will not be permitted on campus at any time during this academic year.
- As previously announced, employees hired after July 14, 2021, must be fully vaccinated prior to their first day of work at WPI.
- WPI may issue further vaccination requirements if booster or additional COVID-19 vaccinations are recommended by the CDC or the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
Under WPI’s vaccination requirement for employees, the Division of Talent & Inclusion will receive and review disability/medical and religious accommodation requests and may request additional information. Given the new vaccine deadlines, anyone seeking an accommodation is urged to submit their requests as soon as possible by completing this form and emailing it to email@example.com. If an accommodation request is approved, Talent & Inclusion will notify the employee of next steps—including additional protocols (e.g., mask wearing requirements, additional testing, social distancing, etc.) that may be required to protect the health and safety of the WPI community.
Following the October 11, 2021, vaccination deadline, any unvaccinated employees without an approved vaccination accommodation will be placed on unpaid leave for six weeks, and any employees who fail to come into compliance by the end of this six-week unpaid leave may be subject to termination.
WPI employees and incoming international students who were unable to be vaccinated earlier are encouraged to take advantage of the COVID-19 vaccination clinic happening from 9 am to 5 pm on Tuesday, September 7, at a temporary vaccination site in the Hackfeld Street parking lot, near the Student Health Center. Participants may choose either the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine or the two-dose Pfizer vaccine. Appointment scheduling information will be provided shortly.*
WPI employees with questions or concerns should review the FAQs here and contact the Division of Talent & Inclusion at firstname.lastname@example.org. Employees of Chartwells and Dunkin’ Donuts should consult their managers about either their accommodations process and/or consequences of non-compliance.
Hopefully none of this comes as much of a surprise, given the growing concerns presented by the Delta variant and the health trends both on and off campus. And this requirement now mirrors our requirement for students. All students on campus must either be vaccinated or have a medical/religious exemption or be fully remote. Those who did not comply with the requirement have been unenrolled from classes.
While we are moving toward a better normal with everyone’s health, mental health, and educational experiences in mind, we will continuously monitor our current state and define what needs to happen for the university to decrease or increase restrictions on this journey toward a post-pandemic world. As always, our Coronavirus Emergency Response Team (CERT) will look carefully at all critical data, factors, and contexts and continue to work with people throughout the university to help WPI successfully navigate challenges posed by COVID.
I wish you all the best for the new year and thank you for your continued vigilance, dedication, cooperation, and help.
*Appointments for the September 7 vaccination clinic can be scheduled here.