Federal judge affirms UMass COVID-19 vaccination requirements for students

In a victory for the University of Massachusetts as it works to keep its 75,000 students, 24,000 employees and host communities safe throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, a federal judge has denied a request to halt the university’s student COVID-19 vaccination requirement. U.S. District Judge Denise J. Casper issued the ruling this afternoon following a Thursday hearing in the U.S. District Court in Boston. The rulings denied the plaintiff’s request to halt the student vaccinations and granted the university’s request to dismiss the case. 

“This is an important ruling for UMass as it allows us to continue taking the steps necessary to protect the health and safety of our students, staff, and faculty,” UMass President Marty Meehan said. “It also sends a strong message to those higher education institutions across the country that are putting the well-being of their campus communities first as we all begin a new academic year. I want to thank Attorney General Maura Healey and her team, as well as our university attorneys, for making a strong case based on science and reason.” 

Each of the five UMass campuses (Amherst, Boston, Dartmouth, Lowell and the Medical School in Worcester) announced several months ago that students coming to campus would be required to be vaccinated except in cases of medical or religious exemption.

Earlier this month, President Meehan said all UMass faculty and staff should also be vaccinated and he implemented a vaccination requirement for the 300 Office of the President employees. Campuses are also requiring vaccination of all faculty and staff and have reached agreements with most of their unions regarding the implementation of the requirements.

Compliance with the qualified vaccination requirements and other reasonable public safety measures based on guidance from the scientific and medical communities has been very strong on all five UMass campuses since the start of the pandemic and continues to be. This is allowing each of the campuses to return to a more normal teaching, learning, living and research environment for the fall semester.