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Union Calls For NAU To Mandate COVID-19 Vaccine

Angela Gervasi

A union of university employees is calling on Northern Arizona University to implement more stringent COVID-19 prevention policies, including a vaccine mandate. The University Union of Northern Arizona — affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers — released a statement Saturday urging NAU to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations, with certain medical exemptions.

“We call upon the NAU administration to stand with its employees, students, and community and publicly challenge the anti-science policies of Gov. Ducey and the [Arizona Legislature],” UUNA-AFT wrote in a statement.

The union also noted the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on Indigenous and Latino community members. In Coconino County, 78% of deaths related to the virus were confirmed among Indigenous residents, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. 

The union, however, applauded the state’s three public universities —  NAU, along with Arizona State University and the University of Arizona —  for their recent decision to require masks. 

Newly appointed NAU President José Luis Cruz Rivera announced last week that masks would be mandatory within classrooms and research labs, along with other campus spaces. The decision comes in spite of an executive order and law banning mask mandates. 

“I will wear my mask, and expect that all members of our university community, regardless of their vaccination status, will do the same,” Cruz Rivera said at a virtual town hall. 

Another virtual meeting is slated this morning. 

Public institutions ranging from Temple University in Philadelphia to Indiana University in Bloomington are requiring proof of vaccination for students, with some religious and medical exemptions. 

A COVID-19 vaccine mandate in Arizona’s public universities would further defy Ducey’s executive order and a state law passed earlier this year. The order and law bar public universities and community colleges from requiring students to disclose information about their vaccination status.


NAU has an active vaccination site at its fieldhouse, and launched a vaccine incentive program for students earlier this summer.

Cruz Rivera also spoke to KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius about his decision to mandate face coverings. Listen here.

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