Southern suspends ETS implementation plans

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Southern Adventist University has suspended planning for Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) implementation, according to an email sent to the student body on December 10 by Vice President for Student Development Dennis Negrón. 

The email followed an earlier one sent by Negrón to the student body on December 3, stating that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) had issued ETS in November. The ETS, currently on hold in the courts due to legal challenges, mandates that all employers of 100 or more individuals must create one of two policies. One mandates that all employees be vaccinated. The other, which Southern would have implemented, mandates employees to either be fully vaccinated or get tested for COVID-19 on a weekly basis while also wearing masks indoors. 

In the first email, Negrón stated that the ETS would affect student employees along with administrators, faculty and staff at Southern, and the university was preparing as if the courts would allow ETS to go into effect by January 10, the first day of next semester. He added that he was planning to send a complete policy regarding ETS to students before Christmas break.

However, in the December 10 email, Negrón stated that the ETS is currently tied up in the courts, so OSHA has been ordered to suspend its plans to implement or enforce it. 

“Administratively, we are thankful for the stay and the legal actions taken against the ETS rule and are hopeful for a positive outcome,” Negron stated in the email. “Given the likely lengthy court battle over implementation and enforcement of the rule, Southern has suspended, for the time being, planning for ETS implementation on our campus.”

Consequently, students will not receive a policy regarding ETS before Christmas break, according to Negrón’s email. He added that it always was and continues to be the university’s intention to not implement ETS’ requirements if it is legally overturned. 

In the second half of the email, Negrón stated that he has heard from multiple people regarding Southern’s ETS plans and that he appreciates and respects the different perspectives and beliefs presented to him. 

“Administration recognizes there was no decision or stance we could take on this issue that would satisfy each person or constituency,” Negron stated. “Our goal throughout the planning process was to seek a path forward that protected your health, privacy and beliefs as much as possible, while trying to balance the various perspectives on the matter.”

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