Managing Back to Campus Vaccination Processes in Higher Education

With the roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines underway, higher education institutions are grappling with different levels of policies. Universities and colleges are deciding whether to implement mandatory vaccination policies, incentivized vaccination policies, or strategies that leave it up to students, faculty and staff to decide whether they will be vaccinated - all while continuing to enforce campus safety measures. Some have already decided that on campus instruction will resume for the Fall semester. As a result, where permitted, they are releasing vaccination requirements for those who will be physically on campus, impacting millions of people nationwide.

Whether or not institutions decide* to enforce mandatory vaccinations, they might need to plan for, track, and report on vaccine status for students, faculty and staff. Additionally, they may need a way to enable students and staff to securely self-attest their health status - whether they’ve been vaccinated, when the doses were administered and which vaccine they received.

New processes and questions for schools

Managing vaccine records poses new questions and requirements for schools. Depending on the policy they move forward with, institutions will need to create a number of new processes to:

  • Verify and document vaccinations
  • Establish record keeping protocols for medical information
  • Document and administer accommodation requests
  • Implement appropriate discipline policies 

Additionally, colleges and universities must keep vaccination status and underlying conditions confidential in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and, if applicable, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Whether an institution may require or mandate COVID-19 vaccination is a matter of state or other applicable law. If a school requires staff, students and faculty to provide proof that they have received a COVID-19 vaccination, the school cannot mandate that these individuals provide any medical information as part of the proof.

Moving forward, institutions will need to stay current on forthcoming legal developments, which may include new recommendations from public health authorities and/or protections from federal or state agencies. Education institutions need this data in order to plan for different scenarios and make real time decisions regarding who returns to campus, capacity for certain buildings/sites and more.

Digital processes for vaccination documentation

To create new vaccine processes and policies so that they’re effective and easy to follow, colleges and universities need to approach them in a digital-first way. With the Docusign Agreement Cloud for Education, Student Services and HR teams can take advantage of electronic signature technology, pre-built templates, Powerforms and Docusign’s integrations with Salesforce, Workday and other systems.

  • Clearly communicate, distribute and implement policies: Students, staff and faculty need to know their school’s stance on vaccinations and returning safely to campus. Student Services and HR teams can use pre-built templates to generate consent forms, Bulk Send to distribute updates in mass and eSignature technology for signing or acknowledgement of documents.
  • Survey stakeholders: Many staff and faculty members as well as students may have new considerations about coming back to campus full-time, like current health conditions, childcare needs and public transit options. Teams can also use pre-built templates to send surveys to collect data on current needs.
  • Collect documentation data: Teams will need to plan for a process to collect vaccination records, exemptions to vaccinations and/or exceptions to returning to campus. Docusign eSignature and Powerforms allow all to provide vaccine updates pertinent to them, by providing a self-service signing experience for both employees and students.
  • Leverage Docusign integrations: With Docusign, Student Services and HR teams can send electronic documentation through partner solutions like Salesforce and Workday.

By creating these new processes in a digital-first way, universities and colleges will be able to:

  • Save time in the back end by creating digital processes for signature and management of those documents
  • Simplify the actions needed from HR teams and students, faculty and staff
  • Stay compliant by creating a digital footprint of documentation and signatures
  • Maintain safety as a priority by distributing policies and procedures in a timely matter
  • Provide an intuitive modern experience for HR and for students, faculty and staff

To get started, learn more about the Docusign Agreement Cloud for Education.

*Docusign understands the sensitivity of this topic and is not encouraging employers to track or not to track employee vaccinations. Rather, we are here to provide solutions for employers to navigate the many challenges presented by Covid-19, including helping to generate, distribute, and collect employee signatures on documents.