COVID-19 Update: Proof and Exemptions Portal Goes Live
July 14, 2021
Dear members of the Saint Louis University community:
Today, we are launching our online portal where students, staff and faculty who are living, studying, working, researching and ministering on our St. Louis campuses can submit proof of vaccination or submit their request for a medical or religious exemption.
- Proof is to be provided as a digital copy of your completed CDC COVID-19 vaccine card, or of a vaccination card provided by the vaccination site where you had obtained a World Health Organization-approved COVID-19 vaccine.
- August 1 is the deadline for each of us to upload our proof of vaccination. Of course, we will provide a grace period through August 8 for those who are not able to make our deadline.
- July 20 is the deadline for a student, staff or faculty member to request a medical or religious
exemption. Again, we will provide a brief grace period for those who, for example,
may need more time to obtain a letter from their primary health care provider for
a medical exemption.
- Exemption due to a sincerely held religious belief: A sincerely held religious belief is one that is either part of a traditional, organized
religion such as Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism or Buddhism, as well
as non-theistic moral or ethical beliefs as to what is right and wrong, which are
sincerely held with the strength of traditional religious views. Social, political
or personal preferences do not qualify as a religious belief. If you have received
other vaccinations, you will be expected to explain how or why the COVID-19 vaccine
is different under your religious belief than the available vaccines to other diseases
that you have received.
- Exemption due to a substantive medical reason: CDC guidelines about medical reasons one cannot be vaccinated (i.e., medical contraindications) will serve as the basis for our policy. If seeking a medical exemption, you will need to include a letter from your primary licensed healthcare provider detailing your need for medical exemption in your request. Such a letter is provided when one is seeking an exemption from our other required vaccinations.
- We have created a new email address, email@example.com, to help field questions on vaccination exemptions. Decisions and correspondence regarding this process will come from that email account.
- Exemption due to a sincerely held religious belief: A sincerely held religious belief is one that is either part of a traditional, organized religion such as Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism or Buddhism, as well as non-theistic moral or ethical beliefs as to what is right and wrong, which are sincerely held with the strength of traditional religious views. Social, political or personal preferences do not qualify as a religious belief. If you have received other vaccinations, you will be expected to explain how or why the COVID-19 vaccine is different under your religious belief than the available vaccines to other diseases that you have received.
As Billikens who are for and with others, we are expecting very high compliance with our vaccination requirement. A near-universally vaccinated University community ensures we can return to normalcy on our St. Louis campuses in mid-August, no matter if you are vaccinated or have a University-approved exemption. No face masks. No social distancing.
We are eager to provide incentives for our vaccinated students, staff and faculty, as well. We are considering everything from a lottery for free parking for employees to gift card giveaways for students. We will share details as soon as they are available. All those who submit proof of vaccination will be automatically entered into the lottery to win an incentive.
Can I still get vaccinated at SLU?
Yes! We will be offering multiple opportunities for you to receive your COVID-19 vaccine on campus this summer and at the start of the fall semester. Please schedule your vaccination appointment here. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with any scheduling questions or concerns.
Vaccines also are offered at most pharmacies, including Walgreens, CVS, Target and others. You can search for COVID-19 vaccines in your hometown here, using your zip code.
What if I am denied an exemption?
If your request for a religious or medical exemption is denied, you are expected to get vaccinated in order to live, work or learn on campus at Saint Louis University. There will be a grace period provided to you to get a COVID-19 vaccine at the time of your exemption decision.
Remote learning and work will not be an option for those who are denied an exemption.
What if I refuse to comply?
A small number of members of our community have voiced their firm refusal to be vaccinated should their request for an exemption be denied. In the end, especially with the Delta variant fueling COVID infections in Missouri towns with low vaccination rates, we hope our campus community will see that vaccination is the optimal way to protect ourselves and one another — and to abide by the common bond of our Jesuit values.
While we hope for 100% compliance with this requirement (either by being fully vaccinated or obtaining an approved medical or religious exemption) we are realistic that valued members of our community will likely not comply and must accept that unfortunate reality. Accordingly, the University has adopted recommendations of a working group of faculty, students and staff for a series of escalating actions that ultimately provides for separation from the University for anyone choosing not to comply with the University’s vaccine requirement without a valid medical or religious exemption.
As Dr. Pestello has noted numerous times: In our fight against an unprecedented pandemic, we came together as OneSLU, and grounded our decisions in our University values and the best scientific knowledge available at each step in this pandemic journey. The result was that we enjoyed a consistent and sustained level of success in containing the virus among our students, faculty, and staff that set us apart.
Our St. Louis campuses remained open throughout last fall and spring. Most classes were conducted in person. Except for a brief few days early in our spring semester, our campus had far less disease transmission than in the City and County. Our classrooms and labs had no evidence of disease spread.
The $20 million to $75 million deficit we had projected a year ago, turned into a small surplus, which permitted the University to award small bonuses to thousands of our lowest-paid employees.
Staff and faculty remained fully employed, except for brief furloughs in our clinical operations when non-urgent clinical care and medical procedures were halted during the height of spring and summer 2020.
Looking to the fall semester, we foresee enrolling a larger entering class than last fall. Incoming students and their families tell us that the way in which we conducted ourselves throughout the pandemic was a major reason they considered SLU.
Let’s continue to deliver on the extraordinary accomplishments we have achieved together. Let’s be sure our work colleagues and classmates are fully vaccinated. And we can begin the fall semester as we all have wished. Back to as close to normal as possible.
I want to thank the people who made this portal possible: Kevin Carr of ITS; Ashley Gomel, our COVID-19 Prevention Services Manager; and our partners at Watkyn LLC. Without the help of these leaders and the direction from our stakeholder-driven working groups, this wouldn’t be possible.
Stay safe and be well,
Terri Rebmann, Ph.D., RN, CIC, FAPIC
Special Assistant to the President
Director, Institute for Biosecurity
Professor, Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics
College for Public Health and Social Justice