Last Updated: September 4, 2021, 12:54 pm

Masks, vaccines required in some Utah universities


Students participate in the COVID-19 vaccination clinic on campus. Photo by Brock Doman.

While the FDA has approved the Pzifer COVID-19 vaccine, Utah’s government is still blocked from requiring vaccines or masks on campuses.

In April 2021 the Utah Legislature created a new law blocking Utah’s government from requiring vaccines with only emergency approval in public K-12 schools and on higher education campuses; however, on Aug. 23 the Food and Drug Administration gave full approval to the Pzifer-BioNTech vaccine. This now opens the door for universities to mandate the Pzifer-BioNTech vaccine if the administrators choose to do so.

The Johnson & Johnson and Moderna vaccines cannot be mandated since they are not FDA approved as of right now. Currently, the University of Utah, Utah State, Utah Valley University and Weber State University have decided to require students get the vaccine. This vaccine mandate for these universities only applies to students. Faculty and staff are not required to get the vaccine as of right now.

The universities have made it known there will be medical, religious and personal exemptions. While universities can still require vaccines in the state of Utah, masks are still prohibited from being mandated.

In an email from Dixie State University President Richard “Biff” Williams said the university is not requiring the COVID-19 vaccine for attendance. This is because of the COVID-19 procedures the university has recently updated. The DSU administration still strongly encourages students wear masks and get vaccinated as they will continue COVID-19 tracing to keep the students, staff and faculty safe.

“DSU is doing what it can within the limits of new state legislation to encourage students to get vaccinated and to mask up in communal settings,” Susan Ertel, associate professor of English and Faculty Senate President said. “Ultimately, it’s down to personal responsibility and a desire to help your community by taking the steps to protect those who cannot take the vaccine.”

Southern Utah University is holding Zoom meetings to help the university decide whether to require vaccines or not for spring 2022.

“The COVID taskforce at DSU is considering what our next steps will be in light of the full approval of the Pfizer vaccine and the upcoming full approval of the Moderna vaccine,” Ertel said. “Students will know well in advance of the spring semester what their options are and what DSU’s plan is to help stop the spread of COVID-19.”

DSU’s Booth Wellness Center has a chart on their website keeping track of how many current COVID-19 cases there are between students and faculty.

DSU will be holding one final vaccination clinic this semester on Oct. 20. DSU will still continue to offer free testing through SoftCell Laboratories all semester long.

You must get a test order from a healthcare provider, and walk-in patients are not welcome. To order a test through DSU’s Booth Wellness Center, submit a COVID-19 self-reporting form or call the Booth Wellness Center at 435-652-7755 to make an appointment. DSU also offers options for off-campus testing at Intermountain Hospital, TestUtah and Family Health Care.

“I think the university has done a good job keeping our campus safe, but I do not think they are doing everything they possibly can to protect students, faculty and staff,” Bryant Espinal, a freshman general studies major from New York said.

Vince Brown, director of the institute of politics and public affairs said, “Science has given us a way to tackle COVID-19 if enough people get vaccinated.”

DSU’s COVID task force is meeting to discuss and make any further changes to the COVID-19 guidelines for the upcoming semesters. If you are sick stay home and fill out a COVID-19 self-reporting form.