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DC-area public university requires employees to disclose vaccine status to qualify for merit pay

President's announcement offers no explanation for the change.

Updated: June 29, 2021 - 7:15pm

George Mason University faculty and staff who want to keep their COVID-19 vaccine status to themselves will hurt their own pocketbooks under a policy change announced Monday afternoon by the Virginia public university near Washington, D.C.

"Disclosure of vaccination status – whether vaccinated or not – will be a prerequisite for eligibility for any future merit pay increases," President Gregory Washington wrote in the email, forwarded to Just the News, as part of a much broader announcement about COVID-19 rules for return to campus in six weeks. He didn't give a reason, much less a medical one, for connecting the issues.

"All employees will be strongly encouraged to get vaccinated, and required to share their vaccination status" by Aug. 1. Those who don't share their vaccine status "will be required to wear masks while on campus, physically distance, and undergo frequent COVID-19 testing," Washington said.

As with many other colleges, GMU students do not have the same leeway as employees when it comes to COVID-19 vaccines. Washington ordered them to be "fully vaccinated, and share proof of vaccination," by Aug. 1. "Those who do not share proof of vaccination or an approved exemption will have their registrations held until they do so."

Those who receive medical or religious exemptions will have to wear masks on campus and "undergo frequent COVID-19 testing." The email does not list any time or place exceptions to mask wearing, such as when students are outside, in their own rooms or socially distanced from others.

The university did not immediately respond to a request to explain why it connected disclosure of vaccine status to merit pay eligibility, whether faculty contracts as written allowed for this policy change, and what notice if any it gave faculty before Monday's announcement.

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