Dear Faculty and Staff,
We’re halfway through the fall semester and I write with deep appreciation to everyone for their efforts to keep COVID-19 infections at bay. Our vaccination rates are quite good with 83% of employees and 92% of students immunized. A highly vaccinated community, combined with our continued requirement of masks in most indoor spaces, testing, and other measures, is creating the safety we need to be in-person.
As you may know, the federal government recently announced plans to increase national vaccination rates, including requiring vaccination for most federal employees and contractors and masking per CDC guidelines. The UW System announced that it intends to comply with the federal mandate.
As a Research 1 university, we have several existing and pending federal research contracts and subcontracts and intend to apply for future contracts. The federal support we receive represents the lifeblood of any top research institution like ours. For UWM, it also supports the core of our mission and involves countless faculty, staff, and students in direct research activities that produce scientific discoveries and life-changing innovations. Under the Executive Order, UWM is a contractor and the vaccine requirement will apply to UWM employees, including student employees and those who work on all campuses and remotely, effective Jan. 18. Per the federal government, any vaccine authorized by the World Health Organization is acceptable.
We do not yet know the potential outcome of pending legal challenges and ask you to pay very close attention to announcements in the near future. In the meantime, I encourage all faculty and staff to take steps as if a vaccine mandate will be imposed. We continue to offer vaccine clinics at the Milwaukee campus. Employees may take work time to get vaccinated at the UWM clinics. Vaccines are also widely available at local pharmacies and clinics. Please visit vaccines.gov to find a nearby provider.
For those who are not yet vaccinated, please know that UWM needs and values you as our employees and we sincerely request that you consider getting vaccinated now. If you are already fully vaccinated, thank you, and I urge you to upload your vaccination information as soon as possible if you have not already done so. Testing continues to be available on campus on a voluntary basis for those who are vaccinated. If you have questions about the vaccines, please contact the Milwaukee Health Department’s COVID-19 hotline at (414) 286-6800. For those who are eligible for medical or religious exemptions, you may submit those requests here, assuming the federal mandate remains in effect.
Please keep in mind, it is inappropriate for supervisors or colleagues to make inquiries regarding employees’ vaccination status. If a vaccine mandate is imposed for employees, Human Resources will work with Deans and Division Heads to help them understand the potential impact on their workforce.
We are working diligently to fully understand our responsibilities under the new and emerging directives and will share more information as quickly as possible. In the meantime, questions can be directed to HR-Covid19@uwm.edu.
Thank you in advance for your patience and help as we learn how the federal requirements will impact our campuses.
Mark A. Mone, PhD