I work at a large public university in Washington state. Until recently, many buildings on campus have been closed, masks have been required, etc. Campus is now opening up, and vaccination is required for students and employees unless they have medical, religions, or philosophical reasons for not getting vaccinated. Anyone who does not vaccinate is supposed to wear masks, but vaccination status is self reported by checking some boxes (no actual proof).
We have just received the following guidance:
Vaccination attestation information is private and confidential.
- Instructors may not ask their students about their vaccination status, nor will they have access to students’ records or be expected to verify students’ vaccination status. Instructors may broadly inform students that individuals who are not fully vaccinated need to wear face coverings in the classroom.
It seems unreasonable to rely on the higher powers to somehow enforce what seems to be an essentially unenforceable mask mandate for unvaccinated people. I understand that asking questions about why someone has not been vaccinated, etc. may constitute harassment as it may force people to disclose information such as medical issues, etc. However, that does not preclude asking vaccination status as a yes/no question.
What are the ethical considerations surrounding this mandate? In the absence of such a mandate, is asking student vaccination status unethical? In the presence of such a mandate, what are potential consequences for doing so?