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Employee Vaccine Protocol

Effective August 9, 2021

Niagara University, as a Vincentian and Catholic university, is committed to maintaining a healthy environment for all students and employees. All that we accomplished as a community during the COVID-19 pandemic thus far reflects a commitment to the health of our community, and we collectively took a litany of steps to minimize disruption while striving for the lowest possible levels of COVID-19 infections. We remain committed to a basic principle that maintaining the lowest possible levels of COVID-19 is critical for Niagara University and the surrounding community. As the pandemic is constantly changing and shifting, and in an effort to minimize the spread of COVID-19 in our community (and hopefully to avoid significant disruption that would be caused by a COVID-19 outbreak on our campuses), we are taking additional measures to protect against the spread of COVID-19, including the implementation of a vaccination requirement for academic year 21-22 (subject to the exemptions explained below).

Niagara University requires all employees (including all full-time and part-time faculty, all full-time and part-time employees, and annual contracted employees), to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Current employees were required to upload documentation into the university’s Medicat system by Oct. 1, 2021, unless an exemption from this policy was granted. Faculty members or other employees who are currently teaching or working remotely are not exempt from this vaccine requirement. New employees will use their Niagara University network credentials to log in to the Medicat portal to enter information and upload documents and forms as necessary. Acceptable proof shall include a written certification of vaccination, such as a CDC or Ontario approved vaccination card or medical documentation showing the date and type of vaccine administered.

Employees who are unwilling to comply with this requirement may be placed on unpaid leave as a result. During this time, the matter of noncompliance will be addressed by the Office of Human Resources in a manner consistent with Niagara University’s policies and procedures which affect faculty and staff. Employees in the United States shall be responsible for scheduling and obtaining all recommended doses of an FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccine (or a COVID-19 vaccine granted Emergency Use Authorization by the FDA). This applies to employees reporting to work on the Lewiston campus, and for employees reporting to work at any of our Ontario locations. For those employees working at an Ontario location, any COVID-19 vaccines that have been either approved or granted emergency use authorization by Health Canada are appropriate.

Prior to becoming fully vaccinated, employees must wear masks indoors in public spaces (i.e., classrooms, the library, and lower level Gallagher). In addition, any member of the campus community that receives an exemption must continue to wear a mask while in public places while on campus.

Consistent with state and provincial laws, employees working in New York state and in Ontario will be paid for time traveling to or spent getting the vaccine if done during regular work hours, up to a maximum of four (4) hours per vaccine injection. Those requesting time off for vaccinations should inform their supervisors.


Exemption Requests

Accommodation and exemption requests will be considered for newly hired employees as set forth below. Please note, however, that the university reserves the right to take any necessary and appropriate steps, including imposing alternative COVID-19 prevention measures (such as requiring the continued wearing of face coverings or masks and/or regular COVID-19 testing), to ensure the health or safety of themselves or others in the workplace. If employees believe they need an accommodation or an exemption from this policy, they are responsible for contacting Human Resources and providing the necessary documentation.

The university makes determinations about requested accommodations and exemptions on an individualized case-by-case basis. The university strives to make these determinations expeditiously and in a fair manner and will communicate the decision in a timely fashion to the employee seeking such an exemption. Upon receipt of a request for exemption or accommodation, the university may engage in an interactive dialogue with the employee to determine the precise limitations of the employee’s ability to comply with our COVID-19 vaccination requirement and explore potential actions that could overcome those limitations. Although the university encourages employees to offer suggestions, the university is not required to make the specific accommodation requested and may provide an alternative effective accommodation, to the extent any reasonable accommodation can be made without imposing an undue hardship on the university or posing a direct threat to you or others in the workplace.

Niagara University provides reasonable accommodations, absent undue hardship, to qualified individuals with disabilities that enable them to perform their job duties. Reasonable accommodation may include appropriate adjustment or modifications of employer policies, including this COVID-19 vaccination requirement.

Eligible Exemptions for New Employees

Religious Beliefs

Niagara University provides exemption, absent undue hardship, to employees with sincerely held religious beliefs, observances, or practices that conflict with getting a COVID-19 vaccination. Such requests will require completion of an exemption request form and submission of appropriate supporting documentation. This form must be submitted by the required deadline communicated at the point of hire for review and consideration.

Please note that philosophical, political, scientific, or sociological objections to immunizations will not justify an exemption from this policy.

Medical Reasons

Exemptions for medical reasons are also available on a case-by-case basis [e.g., severe or immediate allergic reaction to a previous dose or known (diagnosed) allergy to a component of the vaccine] even if they do not qualify as a disability under federal, state, provincial, regional, or local law. Such requests will require completion of an exemption request form and submission of appropriate supporting documentation by the required deadline communicated at the point of hire for review and consideration.

You can find forms for both exemptions here.

Continuing COVID-19 Policies

While this vaccination requirement is a key part of our overall strategy and commitment to maintaining a safe and healthy workplace in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is intended to supplement, and not replace, the other COVID-19 prevention measures that may be in effect or come into effect as directed by NYSDOH or Niagara County Department of Health, for example. Niagara University needs everyone’s full cooperation and compliance with this and other health and safety workplace policies to ensure they are effective and to prevent disruption to our students’ experiences at Niagara.