Diné College Taking Part In White House's COVID-19 College Vaccine Challenge
The Navajo Nation’s Diné College has joined the White House’s COVID-19 College Challenge that’s part of President Joe Biden’s effort to reach a 70% nationwide vaccination goal by July 4.
COVID-19 mitigation is a top priority for the college since the Navajo Nation was hit hard by the virus. The college is participating in this effort to protect its elders and youth, said Velveena Davis, the college’s incident command director.
“Diné people have been identifying this pandemic, this virus as the monster, and as warriors we want to fight against this monster and this is a way that we can actually do it," she said.
Now that public health conditions have improved, the college has started to allow employees to come work in person but is requiring them to be vaccinated since 85% of its staff are older adults or at high-risk for COVID.
“Culturally, every elder is our grandparent. We want to make sure that we’re bringing them into an environment that’s considered safe," Davis said.
The college is also requiring students to be vaccinated if they are coming to campus for in-person activities including classes. The college is able to mandate vaccines since the executive order Gov. Doug Ducey issued last week barring Arizona public universities and college from doing so does not apply to it, Davis said. There are religious and medical exceptions for employees and students. The college also continues to require face masks as part of the Navajo Nation’s mandate.