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President Biden announced new actions the administration is taking to get unvaccinated individuals to take the COVID-19 shot, and while Thursday's announcement is bound to impact colleges and universities, the extent to which is still unclear.
Biden announced the Department of Labor is developing new emergency regulations that will require all private sector businesses with more than 100 employees to require their workforce to get vaccinated. Employers will have to provide paid time off for employees to get vaccinated. If an employee still chooses to remain unvaccinated, they must produce a negative COVID-19 test at least once a week. Businesses will be subject to a $14,000 fine per violation.
"The new requirements being set out by the Biden administration will impact colleges and universities the same way they will other large employers and, in the case of many institutions, federal contractors," said Peter McDonough, vice president and general counsel of the American Council on Education.
That's because Biden also signed an executive order requiring all employees of businesses who contract with the federal government to be vaccinated -- and they won't be able to submit a weekly negative test in lieu of a vaccination. This directive will include many colleges and universities, such as those who manage a federal research lab.
"We've been patient, but our patience is wearing thin," Biden said in an address on Thursday. "And your refusal has cost all of us. So, please, do the right thing."
Additionally, he urged large entertainment venues like sports arenas and large concert halls, many of which are found on college campuses, to require event attendees to show a proof of vaccination or negative test for entry.
Currently, close to 400 private colleges and universities mandate vaccinations for their employees. Almost 700 total institutions require their employees to get vaccinated.
A spokesperson for the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities said they and their member institutions are awaiting additional guidance from the administration on federal contractors to learn more, which should be provided later this month, according to the executive order.
A spokesperson for the American College Health Association said they were also currently working to learn more to determine how Biden's plan will affect campus health centers.
It's unclear if Biden's plan will have any impact on public colleges and universities who don't contract with the federal government. It's also unclear what will happen for colleges and universities in states with laws against vaccine mandates, such as Arizona, Arkansas and Georgia.
Republican state leaders and advocates said they were planning to fight Biden's action in court. The Republican National Committee said it will sue the Biden administration over the vaccine mandate, and Georgia Governor Brian Kemp said he will "pursue every legal option available" to "stop this blatantly unlawful overreach by the Biden administration."