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Unvaccinated Pitt Students Disenrolled

By: Erika Stanish/KDKA-TV

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - Some students at the University of Pittsburgh were disenrolled for the spring semester for not complying with the university's vaccine mandate.

In November, the University announced it would be following the Biden administration's federal mandate, requiring all faculty and staff to be fully vaccinated by Dec. 6.

In a statement on Nov. 9, the university said, "While we will begin progressive discipline for faculty and staff who are not compliant with the interim policy by that date, we will use the month of December to help those who want to become compliant do so for the start of the spring term," a university spokesperson said. "We will similarly work with such students during that period."

On Tuesday, the University told KDKA all non-compliant students were disenrolled from classes and lost access to Pitt buildings and certain IT functions. Ninety-six percent of Pitt students and employees have been vaccinated.

"In addition, non-compliant employees lost access to Pitt buildings and certain IT resources," David Seldin said, Pitt assistant vice chancellor of communications.

The University would not say how many students, faculty and staff members were affected but said in a news release in November that more than 93% were fully vaccinated.

"The new requirement will affect approximately 2,250 students, 240 faculty and 700 staff who have not disclosed their vaccination status," a Pitt spokesperson said in news release in November.

"I don't know if disenrollment is exactly necessary, but I think that this is such a small campus that the virus would spread very quickly if everybody wasn't getting the vaccine. I understand the school's call to do it, I would not have made the same call if I was on the board," Jacob Boon, a Pitt senior, said.

The Spring semester started Jan. 10 and students were welcomed back on campus on Jan. 8 where they were advised of a university-wide shelter in place order due to an increased transmission rate of the omicron COVID-19 variant.

"The shelter-in-place period will remain in effect until the CMRO advises that it is safe to lift, but will be in place at least five days after the last cohort arrives. Based on the above timelines, the Pittsburgh campus will shelter in place through at least Wednesday, Jan. 26...The regional campuses will shelter-in-place through at least Jan. 13," Pitt's website says.

"I'm a new student and it's kind of a bummer because I'm not getting to explore everything in the city. But I feel at the same time it's also easy to get started for me personally because I'm stuck in my room all the time so I can focus on my classes first," said freshman Joey Hunker. "I feel eventually though that it's going to catch up to me and I'm going to wish I was out doing stuff with my friends and I was able to hang out and eat out every day."

"I personally like the vaccine requirement - makes me feel safer than my hometown where COVID is spreading a lot," said sophomore Justin McBarnett.

A University spokesperson said students and employees who come into compliance will be permitted to re-enroll and regain access.

Pitt released this statement:

"We continue to work with those who are trying to come into compliance, including those who have lost access to buildings (by having their ID deactivated) or select IT resources, so that they are permitted to re-enroll for classes and/or regain access, with minimal disruption to their Pitt experience. To do so, individuals will need to either provide proof of vaccination or apply for and receive an approved exemption. Tuition refunds for any student who is disenrolled and chooses not to take steps to return to compliance and reenroll will be managed under the standard tuition adjustment process. Employees who choose not to take steps to return to compliance may be subject to additional disciplinary action in accordance with the University's disciplinary guidelines.

The overall vaccination rate is 96% among students, faculty and staff across all Pitt campuses."

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