The University of Connecticut
The University of Connecticut’s main campus in Storrs
The University of Connecticut’s main campus in Storrs

The University of Connecticut announced Wednesday it will require both new and current employees at all campuses and at UConn Health to get fully vaccinated against COVID-19 at the beginning of the new academic year.

“This is particularly important given the rise of the Delta variant and the upcoming start of in-person classes,” UConn Interim President Dr. Andrew Agwunobi, who is also chief executive officer of UConn Health, said in a letter sent to campus employees, adding that university leadership and employee unions came together “to achieve this important policy initiative.”

The mandate comes as Connecticut grapples with a surge in COVID-19 cases. The state’s positivity rate rose to 4.25% Tuesday, with 700 new cases — the highest single-day rate since April 15.

The policy states that all employees must get their first doses no later than Sept. 10 and their second or single doses no later than Oct. 15 unless they are approved for a religious or medical exemption or deferral. Employees whose exemptions or deferrals are approved must get tested weekly.

UConn joins private colleges and universities in the state such as Yale, Quinnipiac and Trinity that have already established universal vaccination requirements for all students and staff.

In June, the university’s governing board made a decision to mandate vaccines for all UConn students.

As of Wednesday, 96% of the incoming students who will live at the Storrs campus are fully or partially vaccinated, and 92% of the incoming students residing at the Stamford campus are fully or partially vaccinated, according to the university’s dashboard — Storrs and Stamford are the only campuses with student housing, but the dashboard shows that more than 80% of all students at each of the five campuses have been fully or partially vaccinated.

The Connecticut State Colleges and Universities are also requiring students to get vaccinated against COVID-19 before the start of the semester but have not yet made a decision whether to require the vaccine for its employees.

“We continue to negotiate with our bargaining units,” said Leigh Appleby, CSCU spokesperson. “We are hopeful that they will follow the lead of their UConn counterparts and recognize that a vaccine requirement for all is beneficial to the employees they represent.”

Adria was CT Mirror's Education and Community Reporter. She grew up in Oakland, graduated from Sacramento State where she was co-news editor of the student newspaper, and worked as a part-time reporter at CalMatters. Most recently Adria interned at The Marshall Project, a national nonprofit news organization that reports on criminal justice issues. Adria was one of CT Mirror’s Report For America Corps Members.