Niagara University as a Vincentian and Catholic University is committed to maintaining a healthy environment for all students and employees. All that we accomplished as a community in the past 18 months reflects a commitment to the health of our community and we collectively took a litany of steps this past academic year to minimize disruption while striving for the lowest possible levels of COVID-19 infections. We remain committed to a basic principle that maintaining the lowest possible levels of COVID-19 is critical for Niagara University and the surrounding community. As the pandemic is constantly changing and shifting, and in an effort to minimize the spread of COVID-19 in our community (and hopefully to avoid significant disruption that would be caused by a COVID-19 outbreak on our campuses), we are taking additional measures to protect against the spread of COVID-19, including the implementation of a vaccination requirement for academic year 22-23 (subject to the exemptions explained below).
Niagara University will require all employees (including faculty and part-time, and temporary employees) who report to Lewiston campus or US-based sites (including our annual contracted employees), to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
Niagara University will require all employees (including faculty and part-time, and temporary employees) who report to our Vaughan campus or any of our Ontario sites (including our annual contracted employees), to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
Employees must upload documentation into the University’s Medicat system unless an exemption from this policy has been granted. Employees will use their Niagara University network credentials to log in to the Medicat portal to enter information and upload documents and forms as necessary. If an employee has previously uploaded their vaccination documentation, there will be no need for them to provide it again. Acceptable proof shall include a written certification of vaccination, such as a CDC or Ontario approved vaccination card or medical documentation showing the date and type of vaccine administered. Employees who are unwilling to comply with this requirement, may be placed on unpaid leave as a result. During this time, the matter of non-compliance will be addressed by the Office of Human Resources in a manner consistent with Niagara University’s policies and procedures which affect faculty and staff. Employees in the United States shall be responsible for scheduling and obtaining all recommended doses of an FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccine (or a COVID-19 vaccine granted Emergency Use Authorization by the FDA). This requirement applies to employees reporting to work on the Lewiston campus, and for employees reporting to work at any of our Ontario locations. For those employees working at an Ontario location any COVID-19 vaccines that have been either approved or granted emergency use authorization by Health Canada are appropriate.
Employees attending the Lewiston campus who opt for the two-dose vaccination (Pfizer or Moderna) must complete that series and provide documentation to the university’s Medicat portal. Employees attending the Vaughan campus who opt for the two-dose vaccination (Astrazeneca, Pfizer, or Moderna) must complete that series and provide documentation to the university’s Medicat portal by Sept. 3, 2021.
Effective October 12, 2021, individuals attending the Vaughan campus, who have only received vaccines approved by the World Health Organization but not Health Canada may no longer be considered “fully vaccinated”under O. Reg. 364/20. To be considered fully vaccinated, an individual must meet the requirements set out in section 2.1 of Schedule 1 to O. Reg. 364/20: Rules for Areas (ROA) at Step 3 and at the Roadmap Exit Step under the ROA.
In accordance with the aforementioned regulation persons are considered fully vaccinated against COVID-19 if:
- they have received,
- (i) the full series of a COVID-19 vaccine authorized by Health Canada, or any combination of such vaccines,
- (ii) one or two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine not authorized by Health Canada, followed by one dose of a COVID-19 mRNA vaccine authorized by Health Canada, or
- (iii) three doses of a COVID-19 vaccine not authorized by Health Canada; and
- they received their final dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at least 14 days before providing the proof of being fully vaccinated.
At all Niagara University facilities in New York State and Ontario, regardless of vaccination status, employees must wear masks indoors in public spaces (i.e., classrooms, hallways and for those attending the Lewiston campus, the library, and lower level Gallagher).
Consistent with state and provincial laws, employees working in New York State and in Ontario will be paid for time traveling to or spent getting the vaccine if done during regular work hours, up to a maximum of four (4) hours per vaccine injection. Those requesting time off for vaccinations should inform their supervisors.
Accommodation and exemption requests will be considered as set forth below. Please note, however, that the University reserves the right to take any necessary and appropriate steps, including imposing alternative COVID-19 prevention measures (such as requiring the continued wearing of face coverings or masks and/or regular COVID-19 testing), to ensure the health or safety of themselves or others in the workplace. If employees believe they need an accommodation or an exemption from this policy, they are responsible for contacting Human Resources and providing the necessary documentation.
The University makes determinations about requested accommodations and exemptions on an individualized case-by-case basis. The University strives to make these determinations expeditiously and in a fair manner and will communicate the decision in a timely fashion to the employee seeking such an exemption. Upon receipt of a request for exemption or accommodation, the University may engage in an interactive dialogue with the employee to determine the precise limitations of the employee’s ability to comply with our COVID-19 vaccination requirement and explore potential actions that could overcome those limitations. Although the University encourages employees to offer suggestions, the University is not required to make the specific accommodation requested and may provide an alternative effective accommodation, to the extent any reasonable accommodation can be made without imposing an undue hardship on the University or posing a direct threat to you or others in the workplace.
Niagara University provides reasonable accommodations, absent undue hardship, to qualified individuals with disabilities that enable them to perform their job duties. Reasonable accommodation may include appropriate adjustment or modifications of employer policies, including this COVID-19 Vaccination Requirement.
At Niagara University’s Ontario locations, employees and contractors who receive a non-medical exemption from being fully vaccinated will be permitted to attend campus but will be required to complete an online vaccine education session provided by the University and made available through Canvas in accordance with the requirements provided by Ontario’s Ministry of Colleges and Universities in its August 31, 2021, Memorandum.
Employees and contractors who receive either of the two exemptions will be required to submit to regular antigen point-of- care testing for COVID-19 and provide verification of the negative test result in a manner and at intervals determined by Niagara University.
Niagara University provides exemption, absent undue hardship, to employees with sincerely held religious beliefs, observances, or practices that conflict with getting a COVID-19 vaccination. Such requests will require completion of an exemption request form, and submission of appropriate supporting documentation. This form must be submitted prior to the commencement of classes. Please note that philosophical, political, scientific, or sociological objections to immunizations will not justify an exemption from this policy.
Exemptions for medical reasons are also available on a case-by-case basis [e.g., severe or immediate allergic reaction to a previous dose or known (diagnosed) allergy to a component of the vaccine] even if they do not qualify as a disability under federal, state, provincial, regional, or local law. Such requests will require completion of an exemption request form and submission of appropriate supporting documentation.
Please note that in accordance with the guidance provided by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health for the Province of Ontario, medical exemptions must be in the form of a written document, completed and supplied by a physician or registered nurse in the extended class, that sets out:
a documented medical reason for not being fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and the effective time-period for the medical reason. Individuals with a medical reason for not being fully vaccinated and who have provided proof of a medical reason, will be permitted to attend campus but will be required to submit to regular antigen point-of-care testing for COVID-19 and to provide verification of the negative test result in a manner and at intervals determined by Niagara University.
Continuing COVID-19 Policies
While this Vaccination Requirement is a key part of our overall strategy and commitment to maintaining a safe and healthy workplace in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is intended to supplement, and not replace, the other COVID-19 prevention measures that may be in effect or come into effect as directed by NYSDOH or Niagara County Department of Health, for example. Niagara University needs everyone’s full cooperation and compliance with this and other health and safety workplace policies to ensure they are effective and to prevent disruption to our students’ experiences at Niagara University.