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Gov. Ducey issues executive order to block ASU COVID-19 vaccination policy

(Facebook Photo/Arizona State University)

PHOENIX – As promised, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey on Tuesday issued an executive order to block key elements of Arizona State University’s COVID-19 vaccination policy.

The order says that the state’s public universities and community colleges can’t “mandate that students obtain a COVID-19 vaccine, show proof of COVID-19 vaccination or place any conditions on attendance or participation in classes or academic activities, including but not limited to mandatory testing and mandatory mask usage, if a person chooses not to obtain a COVID-19 vaccine or disclose that they have been vaccinated against COVID-19.”

The order singles out ASU and accuses the school of “attempts to usurp the constitutional authority” of the governor and Legislature.

A press release announcing the order said it prevents schools from making COVID-19 testing and mask wearing a requirement for students on campus who aren’t vaccinated or who refuse to submit documentation, all elements of ASU’s vaccination policy for 2021-22.

The order includes an exemption that makes medical students training in hospitals and other health care facilities subject to vaccination and testing requirements. It also allows for required testing in the case of a significant outbreak at a student housing venue if approved by the Arizona Department of Health Services.

“The vaccine works, and we encourage Arizonans to take it,” the Republican governor said in the release. “But it is a choice and we need to keep it that way.

“Public education is a public right, and taxpayers are paying for it. We need to make our public universities available for students to return to learning.”

ASU’s plan was released Monday, prompting Ducey to call it “bad policy, with no basis in public health” on Twitter.

He also tweeted that he would issue an executive order to “ensure this excessive policy is never enforced” and ask the Legislature to pass it into law. As it stands, the order will be in effect until the state’s COVID-19 public health emergency is lifted.

Earlier Tuesday, before Ducey’s announcement, ASU President Michael Crow told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Mike Broomhead Show that the policy was being misinterpreted by some to mean vaccinations were mandated, which is happening elsewhere.

“We’ve chosen the path that most universities haven’t chosen. They most have chosen full vaccination of all employees and all students. We’re allowing freedom of choice,” he said.

“So we expect vaccinations, but if you don’t get vaccinated then you’ve got to follow CDC guidelines for institutions of higher education which are quite clear, which is to protect the unvaccinated.”

Crow also said unvaccinated students are just being asked to continue following policies from last semester when they return to campus in the fall.

“We’re not really changing anything,” he said. “If you’re vaccinated, you don’t have to do this; if you’re not vaccinated, you have to keep doing what you’ve been doing.”

“This allows us to be fully open. That’s really what we’re doing.”

The policy contains three highlighted requirements for unvaccinated students or those who don’t reported their status:

  • Submit a daily health check.
  • Participate in up to twice weekly COVID-19 testing.
  • Wear face covers in all indoor and outdoor spaces on ASU campuses.

“We’re going to be bringing in students from all 50 states,” Crow said. “We’re going to be bringing in students from 130 countries, all gathered at one point in one time in one place.

“And so this is our best defense to the reignition of the spread.”

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