July 22, 2021

Sent on behalf of the Continuity of Operations Taskforce

The Continuity of Operations Taskforce continues to monitor the COVID-19 pandemic and to balance safety constraints and the resumption of regular operations. The following paragraphs outline the current management plan, which is unchanged from the earlier, June 8, 2021, message from the Taskforce. Updated information will be published on the EVMS COVID-19 website.

Vaccination Directive

The COO Task Force and Senior Management directed all students (both entering and continuing) to be vaccinated by August 1, 2021, and to provide proof of vaccination through the EVMS Vax Portal.

Distance learning students are exempt from this directive.

Further, the COO Task Force has directed that vaccination will be mandatory for all employees when the FDA issues its final approval of the vaccines.

Rationale for the Directive

The vaccine mandate is an essential part of in-person instruction, clinical experiences and student social and community engagement activities. The determination to mandate the vaccine was made after the vaccines were safely administered to millions of people across the United States and is based on CDC guidance on the use, safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines. The COVID-19 vaccine is the safest and most effective way to protect the health and safety of the EVMS campus.

Requesting an Exemption from the Vaccination Requirement

Medical exemptions for students will be determined by Student Health and religious exemptions will be determined by Student Affairs. Employees may be granted religious exemptions by Human Resources and medical exemptions will be determined by Occupational Health by following the procedures in place for the annual flu shot.

Database on Vaccination Status

Human Resources (with assistance from Risk Management) will maintain a database on employees and students with regard to their vaccination status and will share that information as appropriate with Occupational Health, Student Health, Student Affairs, program directors and others with a business reason for needing to know.

Sanctions for Noncompliance with the vaccination requirement or the masking guidelines for those students and employees who are not fully vaccinated

Sanctions for noncompliant students will be uniformly applied across all programs and will be handled by Student Affairs under the Code of Student Conduct as follows:

  • First violation involves a written warning via the Maxient system. Program directors will be included on this notification per professionalism procedures.
  • Second violation leads to a 24-hour suspension from campus and all academic activities, including all virtual activities, using the Interim Actions procedures from the Code of Student Conduct.
  • All missed academic activities will be considered unexcused absences and subject to relevant program policies.
  • Student ID badges will be deactivated for the length of the suspension.
  • Students will be given a date and time to meet with the Director of Student Rights and Responsibilities (or designee) within the 24-hour suspension to initiate the Code of Student Conduct procedures.
  • Program directors will be informed of the student infraction.
  • Third violation leads to a one-week suspension from campus and all academic activities, including all virtual activities, using same procedures as for the second violation.
  • Fourth violation will lead to suspension from campus and all academic activities, including all virtual activities, for the remainder of academic term using same procedures as for the second violation.
  • Subsequent violations could result in dismissal from the institution.

The following progressive discipline policy will be followed for faculty and staff who do not comply with the mandatory vaccination deadline for obtaining a required vaccine:

  • Verbal Reprimand Issued with 5 days to comply to prevent further action
  • Written Reprimand Issued with 5 days to comply to prevent further action
  • Placed on probation with 5 days to comply
  • Termination possible or in lieu of termination, merit increases will be withheld and no non-mandatory business travel will be approved.

Masking and Social Distancing Requirements

We have modified the masking and social distancing protocols, differentiating between those employees and students who are fully vaccinated and those who are only partially vaccinated or unvaccinated. Vaccinated individuals are not required to wear a mask in non-clinical settings and social distancing is no longer required.

Masks and use of recommended personal protective equipment are still required in all clinical settings where EVMS staff and students encounter patients. EVMS clinical settings will continue to restrict visitors until further notice. As always, EVMS clinical faculty, residents and students must follow the protocols of their host facility when visiting other organizations.

EVMS has modified its masking and social distancing requirements by differentiating between fully vaccinated and unvaccinated/partially vaccinated employees and students as follows:

Fully Vaccinated Individuals

For the purposes of this guidance, people are considered fully vaccinated for COVID-19 two weeks after they have received the second dose in a 2-dose series (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna), or two weeks after they have received a single-dose vaccine (Johnson & Johnson [J&J]/Janssen).

Individuals who have received all recommended doses of a COVID-19 vaccine that is listed for emergency use by WHO (Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines (e.g., COMIRNATY, Tozinameran), AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccines (e.g., Covishield, Vaxzevria), Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) COVID-19 vaccine, Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine, Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine) do not need any additional doses with an FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccine.

Masks and social distancing are not required in non-clinical areas of EVMS, to include:

  • Research labs
  • Teaching areas (conference rooms, classrooms, lecture halls, study rooms, etc.)
  • Administrative work areas (offices, carrels, conference rooms)
  • Break rooms (including clinical staff break rooms where patients are not allowed)

Additional information concerning the applicability of these requirements to specific EVMS buildings may be found at the end of this message.

For the fully vaccinated, the implications of these changes are that we can return to in-person meetings, education conferences (Grand Rounds, departmental meetings, etc.) and similar gatherings without masks, restrictions on room capacity, or social distancing.

Unvaccinated/Partially Vaccinated Individuals

Masks must be worn and social distancing must be observed at all times, whether inside or outside of buildings, except when alone and in private spaces such as an office.

For those unvaccinated/partially vaccinated, attendance at educational, research or administrative meetings is allowed; however, a mask is required. In addition, individuals should maintain social distance during these activities. Please note: Unvaccinated individuals are at a significantly increased risk for getting serious COVID-19 illness and for spreading COVID-19 to others, including those who are immunocompromised.

During a group gathering, if any individual asks for everyone to remain masked, all individuals in the meeting should remain masked.

Additional Considerations

Given the intermingling of clinical and non-clinical spaces across the EVMS campus, employees and students should always have a mask with them.

Classrooms and conference rooms should allow adequate space for unvaccinated individuals to socially distance. Occupancy in these rooms can increase from the COVID-19 social distancing capacity limits.

The expanded sanitation protocols remain in place.

Food and drink in settings other than restaurants remain limited to bottles and boxes.

A general guide to clinical and non-clinical spaces on the EVMS Campus follows:

  • Fully Vaccinated Individuals (must have proof of vaccination on file with EVMS Occupational Health)
    • Masks are not required in teaching, research or administrative areas (conference rooms, classrooms, lecture halls, labs, office suites, break rooms) in:
      • Waitzer Hall
      • Lester Hall
      • Andrews Hall, Floors 1, 4 (admin offices) and 5
      • Williams Hall, A & B Wings (Research and Research Administration)
      • Lewis Hall (Masks are required in animal holding areas of the vivarium.)
        Hofheimer Hall, Floors 2 and 7 and administrative offices
    • Masks are required in all clinical areas (including common areas, elevators and bathrooms) in:
      • Hofheimer Hall (excludes 7th floor conference rooms and auditorium)
      • Andrews Hall, floors 1 (common areas), 2, 3 and 4 (Student Health Clinic)
      • Williams Hall, C Wing (Pulmonary/Critical Care, Strelitz Diabetes)
      • Jones Institute (IVF activities on floors 1 and 2)
    • Masks are required in any group gathering where the meeting host has asked individuals to remain masked.
  • Unvaccinated/Partially Vaccinated Individuals
    • Masks must be worn at all times in all locations, whether inside or outside of buildings, except when alone and in private spaces such as an office or outdoors and away from others. In addition, social distance (more than 6 feet) must be maintained at in-person educational, research or administrative meetings.

We are grateful for the patience, understanding and support shown by the members of the EVMS community as we continue to work our way through the pandemic as safely as we can.