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PFW decides against proposed vaccine mandate

PFW

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Fort Wayne’s NBC) — Purdue Fort Wayne officials announced Thursday afternoon that the school will not pursue a vaccine mandate on campus next spring.

In a release, PFW leadership says after careful consideration, a vaccine mandate is "simply not feasible", and that such a major policy change would cause a disruption in the middle of an academic year.

"Our decision was also based on recommendations from the PFW Ready Committee, which we have relied on during the pandemic for expert guidance related to campus safety protocols, logistics, and operations," the release says. "Our mitigation efforts have proven very effective, most notably the mask requirement that has been in effect during most of the pandemic. We have had no outbreaks of the virus on campus, and campus infection rates continue to decline."

Officials say they also considered feedback from campus surveys done in the past few weeks, held two student town halls, and organized Q&As with faculty and staff for feedback on the proposal.

Even though vaccines will not be mandated, PFW leaders say they stand behind the critical importance of getting vaccinated and encourage all on campus to do so.

Read the letter in full below:

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,
 
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Purdue Fort Wayne has been focused on providing our students with an uninterrupted academic experience while keeping our campus community as safe and secure as possible. Like other universities, we have had our challenges, but we have persevered and we have fared remarkably well.
 
As many of you are aware, our students, faculty, and staff have been engaged in campus-wide conversations and information gathering this fall regarding the possibility of implementing a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for the spring semester. We should all take great pride in the thoughtful and thorough work that has been done to weigh the pros and cons of a measure that would affect every single member of our campus community.
 
After careful due diligence and consideration—and with significant input from the campus community—our leadership team has reached the unanimous decision that implementation of a vaccine mandate for the spring semester is simply not feasible.
 
We took into account a number of important factors in making this decision, not the least of which is the acute disruption such a major policy change would cause for our students in the middle of an academic year.
 
Our decision was also based on recommendations from the PFW Ready Committee, which we have relied on during the pandemic for expert guidance related to campus safety protocols, logistics, and operations. Our mitigation efforts have proven very effective, most notably the mask requirement that has been in effect during most of the pandemic. We have had no outbreaks of the virus on campus, and campus infection rates continue to decline.
 
We also considered feedback from campus surveys conducted during the past few weeks. A total of 2,441 students responded to a survey administered by the Student Government Association, and 669 employees responded to a survey administered by the Office of Institutional Research and Analysis. Additional information was gleaned from two student town halls, our weekly PFW Ready Q&A sessions for faculty and staff, and input from the Faculty Senate.
 
The absence of a vaccine mandate does not change our commitment to the critical importance of being vaccinated. Throughout this pandemic, we have strongly encouraged all members of our university community to get vaccinated. Indeed, we have held numerous clinics on campus since last spring to ensure availability and access to the free vaccines, and many of you have taken advantage of those opportunities.
 
As we look to the future with hope and optimism, we will continue to remain vigilant. This is no time to let down our guard. We have learned during the course of the pandemic that we must be nimble and flexible, yet very thoughtful, in our planning and response. We will work together as we always have to ensure that Purdue Fort Wayne continues to flourish and that we emerge from the pandemic stronger than ever.
 
Sincerely,
 
Ron Elsenbaumer
Chancellor

Jazlynn Bebout

Jazlynn Bebout is the Assignment Desk Editor and Digital Editor at WPTA. Follow her on Twitter @jazlynnsb

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