Members of the NSHE Community Petition for a Safe Fall Semester
Open petition sponsored by the Nevada Faculty Alliance (www.NevadaFacultyAlliance.org)
Update: Over 1270 members of the NSHE community have signed this petition. This petition has been closed to new signatures. To view the signatures, please go to at https://forms.gle/MV761ZDk5EpnWpXP8 . [December 2021: A new Petition for Safe NSHE Campuses has been started.]
To the members of the Nevada State Board of Health, the NSHE Board of Regents, Chancellor Melody Rose, and institutional Presidents:
• Full in-person instruction resumes at the colleges and universities of the Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE) in August 2021 for the Fall semester.
• The shared goals of faculty, students, and the NSHE administration are to teach in-person in a safe manner and to avoid another transition to remote instruction due to the pandemic.
• The coronavirus delta variant has surged in Nevada leading to renewed indoor mask requirements for businesses and on NSHE campuses.
• Widespread vaccination is the most effective way to prevent serious illness and reduce transmission from all current variants of the coronavirus. The available vaccines are remarkably safe and effective.
• Over 650 universities and colleges nationally (https://bit.ly/3Ck5kFH), including large public education systems in many states experiencing lower transmission rates, are implementing mandatory vaccinations for students and/or faculty and staff, many under the Emergency Use Authorization without waiting for full FDA approval.
• Governor Sisolak has ordered state employees including NSHE faculty and staff to show proof of vaccination or else undergo weekly COVID testing (https://bit.ly/2VspFIr).
• As part of their employment duties, faculty and staff work with the much larger number of students in close quarters where social distancing is difficult and often impossible.
• Although faculty and staff will all be vaccinated (or tested weekly), the vaccine is not 100% effective, nor are masks, so the presence of unvaccinated students on campus, even if masked, will result in an entirely preventable transmission of this deadly disease from students to other students, faculty, and staff.
• The current spread of the delta variant has been described by the CDC as a pandemic of the unvaccinated (https://bit.ly/37kKfwG).
• Students tend to be in age groups with lower vaccinations rates (https://bit.ly/2VAfRvP).
• NSHE students are already required to show proof of immunizations for other diseases as a preventive public health measure (with exemptions for bona fide medical or religious reasons).
• Chancellor Rose issued a statement on May 6, 2021, indicating that NSHE was planning for mandatory vaccinations and that "NSHE is asking all students and their families to be prepared for this possibility.” (https://bit.ly/3rTYd2a)
• Full FDA approval of the Pfizer vaccine is reportedly expected imminently, within weeks.
• On August 2, 2021, NSHE legal counsel advised that only the State Board of Health is authorized to require vaccinations for NSHE university students. (https://bit.ly/2VmaAbw)
We, the undersigned members of the NSHE community, respectfully request the Nevada State Board of Health to consider mandatory vaccinations for college and university students based on sound medical evidence and to issue emergency regulations giving guidance and authorization to NSHE. We further request that NSHE and its institutions implement strong proven measures against the further spread of COVID-19 including mandatory student vaccinations until the community public health risk has subsided.
View signatures at https://forms.gle/MV761ZDk5EpnWpXP8