COVID-19 Vaccination Policy
To provide procedures for employees who are returning to campus to receive the COVID-19 vaccination, or to request an exemption.
All Teachers College employees who will be physically returning to campus in fall 2021 are required to receive the COVID-19 vaccination, unless they receive an exemption by the College as described below.
The interpretation and administration of this policy shall be the responsibility of the Human Resources Officer, Human Resources.
The COVID-19 Pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic, also known as the coronavirus pandemic, is an ongoing global pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) that began in the United States in early 2020. As of early June 2021, more than 172 million cases have been confirmed worldwide, with more than 3.7 million confirmed deaths, making it one of the deadliest pandemics in history. The United States has had 33 million cases and nearly 600,000 deaths. New York City has been particularly hard hit and was the epicenter of the pandemic in the United States.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, several vaccines have been developed that have proven to be very effective against COVID-19. Vaccine administration in the United States began in December 2020, and as of June 2021, more than 137 million Americans have been fully vaccinated, including over 9 million New Yorkers.
Teachers College Vaccine Mandate
A vaccine requirement is a safety measure meant to protect the health of employees, students, and others in workplaces or schools. Teachers College regards this mandatory vaccination policy essential to keeping everyone in our community healthy and safe, and to help protect the greater Columbia University community, our neighbors in Morningside Heights and Harlem, and the rest of the New York City area against another outbreak.
After consulting with other academic institutions and with public health experts, Teachers College has decided to make the COVID-19 vaccination mandatory, beginning in the fall 2021 semester for all faculty and staff who are physically returning to campus. As described below, in accordance with federal and state law, the College will accommodate religious and medical exemptions from this vaccine mandate, unless they cause Teachers College undue hardship (i.e. significant difficulty or expense), or pose a direct threat to the health and safety of others.
5.1 Receiving the COVID-19 Vaccine
Acceptable Vaccines: Teachers College will accept all vaccines that have received Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), or the World Health Organization (WHO), including the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine, the Moderna vaccine, and the J&J/Janssen vaccine. Vaccines must have been administered on or after December 1, 2020.
Vaccine Distribution Opportunities: All members of the Teachers College community can be vaccinated at any of the New York City or New York State public vaccination sites. Columbia University is continuing to offer vaccinations to the Columbia community and its affiliates at multiple locations. For the most updated information regarding vaccination distribution opportunities, please visit TC’s COVID-19 Preparedness website.
COVID 19 Vaccination Paid Leave: Employees will be provided with paid time off should their vaccination appointment(s) fall during the scheduled work day. Employees will be granted up to 4 hours of excused leave for each COVID-19 vaccine injection. The leave shall be at the employee’s regular rate of pay and shall not be charged against any other leave, including sick leave. Employees who receive a COVID-19 injection during non-work hours are not eligible for this leave. Vaccination leave is only available for an employee’s own receipt of a COVID-19 vaccine and cannot be used for purposes of caring for potential side-effects. Employees unable to work because they experience side-effects that prevent them from reporting to work may use their regular Sick Leave.
5.2 Proof of COVID-19 Vaccination
Employees returning to campus in fall 2021 will be required to provide the College with proof of vaccination no later than August 1, 2021. Employees receiving two vaccine doses must receive the second dose at least two weeks before the date they will return to campus.
Employees can submit any of the following vaccine documents via the Teachers College Proof of COVID-19 Vaccination form:
All documentation must be submitted in English or accompanied by a certified translation (at the employee’s expense). Additional information or documentation may be requested and if requested must be provided in order to verify a submission.
5.3 Request for Exemption from the COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate - Medical Reason or Sincerely Held Religious Belief
Employees who cannot be vaccinated for COVID-19 because of a (1) medical reason (e.g. disability) or (2) sincerely held religious belief, practice, or observance, must complete and submit the appropriate exemption request form no later than fifteen (15) days before their scheduled return to campus date. Exemptions or reasonable accommodations are not guaranteed and will only be granted if they do not cause the College undue hardship or pose a direct threat to the health and safety of others. Employees with an approved exemption may be required to comply with additional testing and other preventive requirements.
Employees who want to request an exemption can do so by completing the appropriate exemption request form found on TC’s COVID-19 Preparedness website.
5.4 Vaccine Refusal
Employees who do not meet an exemption and who are not fully vaccinated will be subject to weekly COVID-19 testing and additional requirements aimed at keeping the Teachers College community safe. Employees who do not comply with COVID-19 safety requirements may be required to take unpaid leave of absence, and/or may be subject to other appropriate action as determined by the College.
Please note: Receiving the COVID-19 vaccination does not supersede the other COVID-19 safety requirements while on campus. Vaccinated employees must comply with all safety requirements in effect at all times while on campus, this includes but may not be limited to the requirements for masking and social distancing.
Please direct any questions regarding this policy to the Office of Human Resources.
Responsible Office: Human Resources
Effective Date: June 2021
Last Edited: 6.28.2021