Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey issued an executive order Tuesday that would prohibit state public universities from requiring students to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. The order also seeks to ban colleges from mandating students show proof of a COVID-19 vaccination, take mandatory COVID-19 tests, or wear masks.
“The vaccine works, and we encourage Arizonans to take it. But it is a choice and we need to keep it that way,” said Ducey in a press release. “Public education is a public right, and taxpayers are paying for it. We need to make our public universities available for students to return to learning. They have already missed out on too much learning. From K-12 to higher education, Arizona is supporting in-person learning.”
The order provides exemptions for students participating in medical or clinical training, however. Furthermore, the directive does not prohibit institutions from encouraging students to get vaccinated or preventing universities from providing testing or asking for voluntary mask usage, consistent with CDC guidance.
Public universities are permitted to require students to take a COVID-19 test if there is a “significant COVID-19 outbreak in a shared student housing setting that poses a risk to the students or staff,” which would require approval from the Arizona Department of Health Services.
The move from Ducey comes in response to Arizona State University’s updated coronavirus policy that all students are expected to be vaccinated for COVID-19 prior to returning to campus for the fall semester. The policy would mandate that unvaccinated students submit a daily health check, get tested for COVID-19 twice a week, and wear a mask in both indoor and outdoor spaces on campus.
“This is bad policy, with no basis in public health,” responded Ducey in a tweet. “Even the Biden Administration has been more reasonable.”
— Doug Ducey (@dougducey) June 15, 2021
Efforts to codify Ducey’s executive order into law are already underway in the Arizona legislature, according to the governor’s press release.