BGSU communication to the campus community regarding COVID-19 vaccination and exemption plans

Sept. 2, 2021

BOWLING GREEN, Ohio - On Thursday, Bowling Green State University President Rodney K. Rogers sent the following communication to the campus community regarding the University's COVID-19 vaccination and exemption plans:

"At the onset of this global pandemic, communities across the globe moved quickly to react to COVID-19. We did not know much about this virus then, about its impact, how it was spreading so rapidly or the effect it would have on our healthcare infrastructure, but here at Bowling Green State University, we made a commitment to following the preponderance of science to protect the public health and to continue to provide a high-quality education for our students. We have tried to remain flexible and adaptable.

Think of how far we have come since March of 2020 when Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine declared a state of emergency. We now have adequate personal protective equipment, we have access to rapid and PCR testing as well as vaccinations that have proved to be highly effective.

Flexibility and adaptability have served us well in the past as this public health crisis has demanded much of us. We continue to partner with local, regional and national public health officials and organizations. When I reflect on this past academic year and the start of a new one just last week, I am struck that BGSU never stopped working to find a way forward. That is because of the hard work of each member of our learning community – it was because of our shared belief that education is essential.

We must be united in our fight against this virus, not with one another. COVID-19 is our common enemy, and it has proven to be relentless with the Delta variant, which is far more contagious.

With the recent U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) full approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for ages 16 and over, the safety and effectiveness of these vaccines have again been recognized. While there are those who are concerned about the risk of this vaccine, we also know about the significant risks of not receiving it – risks to individuals, but also risk to the broader community. We must balance individual choice with the broader risks posed to our community.

After dialogue with external and internal health professionals, as well as various constituencies, including leaders of student, faculty and staff governance groups, along with representatives from the BGSU Faculty Association, we expect our community to get vaccinated. COVID-19 vaccines are the most effective tool we have to fight this virus to date.

In preparation for spring semester, BGSU is requiring students, faculty and staff to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination or receive an approved exemption.

However, I want to reaffirm our commitment that BGSU will offer appropriate and balanced exemptions for students, faculty and staff members. These exemptions must either be medical, religious or reasons of personal conscience, and will be reviewed and approved by our Division of Health and Wellness. If a student, faculty or staff exemption is approved, they will be required to follow protocols for unvaccinated individuals regarding face coverings, quarantine and isolation and also participate in regular COVID-19 testing.

Students, faculty and staff must submit their proof of full vaccination no later than Nov. 29. If you are planning to submit an exemption, you must complete your application no later than Nov. 1 to allow for time to review and process.

Our #VaxBGSU incentive program for students, faculty and staff continues. Those who submit their proof of vaccination will be eligible for incentives, including the grand prizes, which will be announced on Sept. 29.

Those students who do not submit their proof of COVID-19 vaccination or do not receive an approved exemption may not be allowed to enroll in face-to-face classes this spring or live in an on-campus residence hall next semester. Those faculty and staff who do not complete this process may be subject to discipline in accordance with University policy and applicable collective bargaining agreements.

Next week, Chief Health and Wellness Officer Ben Batey will outline the additional details to provide proof of vaccination or to complete the exemption process. This includes approved vaccine information, vaccine submission instructions for Med+Proctor and request for exemption instructions.

While this strategy will be implemented for many members of our community as soon as possible, most of our students enrolled this fall will be expected to fully comply prior to the beginning of the spring semester. We will also continue to update our COVID-19 frequently asked questions website to keep you informed.

I certainly want to thank all those who have contributed to our ability to respond to the COVID-19 global pandemic, including the University’s senior leaders, all of whom are fully vaccinated, demonstrating their belief in the power of this vaccination to move us toward a post-COVID-19 world. We certainly would not ask you to do something that we are not willing to do.

We need our students, faculty and staff members to continue to step up. We must look to one another to beat this virus. Nothing will replace the power of a personal connection. I am especially asking those who have been vaccinated to reach out to their friends and colleagues to have an understanding conversation about the importance of getting a COVID-19 vaccine.

If you are personally uncertain, I want to let you know why I got vaccinated. It’s because of my family and friends, some of whom have underlying health conditions, as well as our students, faculty and staff – I got vaccinated for the future of our public health and for Bowling Green State University.

We all acknowledge that this global pandemic is tiring and that its challenges have been unlike any other. This virus has attempted to divide us. However, even in the toughest of times, there is hope. Hope in our progress. Hope in our commitment to education, and hope in one another.

The opportunity to reach a post-COVID-19 world rests with each one of us. It’s on us to overcome this global pandemic. I am confident we will meet that moment head on, we will not settle for what is, but what can be, and we will move forward, together."

Rodney Rogers Signature Transparent
Rodney K. Rogers, Ph.D.

Updated: 09/02/2021 10:50AM