Process to request religious accommodations for vaccine mandate now available

Requests must be submitted online by Nov. 5

Editor's note: The deadline to request religious accommodations for the employee vaccine mandate at University Park and eight Commonwealth Campuses has been extended to Friday, Nov. 5. 

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — To comply with an executive order issued last month by President Joe Biden, Penn State is requiring all employees, graduate and undergraduate students supported on wage payroll and students supported on graduate assistantships at University Park and eight Commonwealth Campuses to upload proof that they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Dec. 8, unless they are granted an accommodation for medical/disability- or religious-related reasons.

Penn State is committed to providing a safe, inclusive and supportive experience for all and recognizes true and genuine observances of faith and beliefs as they pertain to immunization for members of the University community. 

Individuals covered by the vaccination mandate who believe that their sincerely held religious beliefs, practices or observances prevent them from receiving a COVID-19 vaccine, may complete an online request form and submit it to the Affirmative Action Office (AAO) for consideration on or before Nov. 5. The form can be accessed online on the AAO website.

Information about the process for requesting a medical/disability-based accommodation is available here. Individuals may seek accommodations for any medically diagnosed medical/disability-related conditions and/or sincerely held religious beliefs that they believe prevent them from being vaccinated against COVID-19. 

The religious accommodation request form asks individuals to explain the sincerely held religious belief, practice or observance that they believe prevents them from getting vaccinated and to answer several other standard questions in order to gather sufficient information to consider such requests. Individuals also may include additional documentation to support their request. Membership in a formal religious institution is not required to be granted a religious accommodation.

Each request will be carefully reviewed by the AAO, but approval is not guaranteed. Individuals will be notified in writing whether their request has been approved or denied, or if more information is needed.

As part of any approved accommodation, unvaccinated individuals will be required, at a minimum, to comply with all other University COVID-19 policies and protocols designed to mitigate the spread of the virus and safeguard community health and safety, including, but not limited to, weekly COVID-19 testing, masking and other preventive measures applicable to unvaccinated employees and others.

Approved religious accommodation requests will be temporary, remain in effect through June 2022 and must be requested annually.