Virginia’s largest public research university is ending its COVID-19 vaccine mandate after the commonwealth’s new attorney general issued a legal opinion pushing back on such measures.
George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, will no longer be requiring the COVID-19 vaccine as a condition for in-person attendance, according to a statement released Monday afternoon by university President Dr. Gregory Washington.
NEW: in an email to the @GeorgeMasonU campus/community, University President Dr. Gregory Washington explains why they’re no longer requiring the COVID-19 vaccine for students.
Letter here: pic.twitter.com/YkHOGnIrRj
— Heather Graf (@Heather7News) January 31, 2022
“Given our high vaccination rate, the continued decline of the omicron variant, the Governor’s recent executive orders and directives, and the recent Attorney General’s opinion, we will now strongly encourage vaccination protocols for all Mason students, faculty, and staff, though we no longer require them,” the statement reads. (RELATED: George Mason Commit Cameron Walker Arrested On Robbery, Murder Charges)
“We also strongly encourage everyone to upload their vaccination status so we can continue to understand the effect of the virus on campus community.”
In addition to ending its vaccination requirement, George Mason marked March 4 as its target date to end the university-wide indoor mask mandate. “I understand the concept of personal freedom. But we must also understand the need for collective responsibility, and just because we can do something does not mean that we should,” President Washington wrote in the statement.
Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares stated in his first legal opinion Friday morning that “Virginia state universities cannot mandate the COVID-19 vaccine as a condition for enrollment or in-person attendance.”
BREAKING: I’ve issued my first ever Attorney General opinion – Virginia state universities cannot mandate the COVID-19 vaccine as a condition for enrollment or in-person attendance.
Check it out here ⬇️⬇️⬇️ pic.twitter.com/dliMICczCZ
— Jason Miyares (@JasonMiyaresVA) January 28, 2022
“Although the General Assembly specifically authorized public institutions of higher education to assist the Department of Health and local health departments in the administration of the COVID-19 vaccine, the legislation did not grant such institutions power to impose vaccine requirements,” Miyares wrote.