On September 9, 2021, President Biden signed Executive Order 14042, “Ensuring Adequate COVID-19 Safety Protocols for Federal Contractors.” This Executive Order requires most federal contractors, including the University of Georgia, to comply with COVID-19 guidance from the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force (“Task Force”). This guidance was initially issued on September 24, 2021, and requires that federal contracts or contract amendments entered into on or after October 15, 2021, include language mandating that, with limited exceptions, all covered employees of federal contractors must be fully vaccinated by December 8, 2021.

The Task Force’s guidance also requires all employees and visitors to covered contractor workplaces to comply with current CDC guidance regarding mask wearing and physical distancing.

Additional information will be forthcoming regarding these requirements, but please be aware that the federal government has defined covered employees and covered contractor workplaces broadly.

As a Research-1 institution, the University receives hundreds of millions of dollars annually pursuant to federal contracts. This funding is critical to our mission as a land-grant and sea-grant institution, and these new requirements apply to us as a federal contractor.

The Requirements of the Federal Executive Order and Task Force Guidance

The Task Force Guidance (available HERE) and the new clause in our federal contracts include the following requirements:

1. Vaccination Requirement for Covered Employees
Vaccination will be required of covered contractor employees, which includes any University employee (including part-time employees and student employees), who work on or in connection with a federal contract or who work in a covered contractor workplace, as those terms are broadly defined by the federal government.

  • This requirement does not apply to all students—but it does apply to students who have employment status at the University (e.g., student workers, graduate research and teaching assistants, etc.) if they are considered covered employees.
  • Covered employees who are not currently fully vaccinated must, with few exceptions, be fully vaccinated by December 8, 2021.
    • The new requirement defines “fully vaccinated” as being two weeks after the dose of the last vaccine. For a multiple-dose regimen, this means the second dose must be received by November 24, 2021 (the Wednesday before Thanksgiving) in order to comply. Unvaccinated employees will need to begin the vaccination process soon to meet this deadline.
      • Those receiving the Moderna vaccine must receive their first dose by Wednesday, October 27.
      • Those receiving the Pfizer vaccine must receive their first dose by Wednesday, November 3.
      • The Johnson & Johnson vaccine consists of a single dose. Therefore, those opting for the J&J vaccine have until Wednesday, November 24 to be vaccinated.
    • Covered employees, including employees who have already been vaccinated, will be required to submit proof of vaccination, so be sure to retain your documentation. Details regarding this process are forthcoming.

2. Mask Wearing and Physical Distancing for Employees, Students and Visitors 

Employees and visitors must comply with current CDC guidance regarding mask‑wearing and physical distancing while in covered contractor workplaces. Again, given the federal government’s broad interpretation of what constitutes a covered workplace, this requirement will likely apply to many areas of our campuses.

Additional detail regarding the applicable CDC guidelines given our current level of community transmission will be shared in the coming days through updated signage at entrances to University facilities and other means. This guidance may change over time based on community transmission levels. Initially, in the classroom setting, we will be asking that faculty and students distance to the extent practicable, though we understand that this may not be feasible in many classes.

Exemptions to the above requirements may be available for covered employees who communicate to the University that they cannot comply with the vaccination or mask-wearing requirements because of a disability (which would include medical conditions) or because of a sincerely held religious belief. More information regarding the exemption process will be communicated in the coming days.

Next Steps for the University Community

This communication will undoubtedly be only the first of several in the next few weeks detailing compliance with these federal requirements.

Together, we have endeavored to keep our campus community safe and healthy while ensuring that the University’s vital mission of teaching, research, and service continues, even in the most challenging circumstances. We are particularly thankful that many of you have already chosen to be vaccinated.

While additional guidance is being developed regarding how we will ensure compliance with the covered employee vaccination requirement, please remember that the University Health Center is administering the COVID-19 vaccine for free to any eligible member of the UGA community over the age of 16. Click here to schedule an appointment.

We encourage employees who have not yet received a COVID-19 vaccine to do so as soon as possible and remind you that an employee may take up to eight (8) hours of Non-Closure Emergency Leave for the purpose of receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. In addition, an employee may also take up to sixteen (16) hours of Non-Closure Emergency Leave if he or she receives a COVID-19 vaccine and experiences negative side effects that prohibit the performance of their duties of employment. For additional information, please see https://coronavirus.uga.edu/2021/04/07/guidance-on-leave-time-for-covid-19-vaccinations/.

Thank you for your consideration in this most serious and important matter.