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Tipsheet

Virginia Universities Rescind Vaccine Mandates Following Opinion from AG Miyares

AP Photo/Steven Senne, File

Supporters of the Republican slate in Virginia's 2021 elections have another reason to celebrate the about-face in Virginia's leadership this week as multiple universities rescinded vaccine requirements for students in the wake of guidance from new Attorney General Jason Miyares. 

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Quick to action after taking office, Governor Glenn Youngkin issued an executive directive regarding mandatory vaccinations which was followed by an advisory opinion from Attorney General Miyares' on Friday which explains that "absent specific authority conferred by the General Assembly, public institutions of higher education in Virginia may not require vaccination against COVID19 as a general condition of students’ enrollment or in-person attendance."

And while Miyares' opinion isn't technically a legally binding directive, the guidance is now being heeded by universities across the Commonwealth. 

The University of Virginia, Virginia Tech, and George Mason University are among the schools that changed their protocol from a vaccine mandate to a strong encouragement for their students. 

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In George Mason University's case, GMU's COVID protocol for the spring semester previously mandated that "all faculty, staff, and students to obtain a booster shot as soon as they are able, and provide proof of the booster to Mason."

The university's "vaccine requirements" page still stated that "Mason will require vaccines for all students, faculty, and staff, and to share verification of their vaccination status to work, study, and live on campus" as recently as January 24th according to the Internet Archive. But as of January 31st, the page had been updated to say "Mason strongly encourages vaccines for students and employees."

The school also sent an email announcing the change, citing new Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares opinion:

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