The California State University system will require students, staff and faculty members to receive a COVID-19 booster in order to be considered fully immunized and eligible for on-campus instruction and activities, it announced Wednesday, joining the University of California, which is implementing a similar policy.

CSU in a statement Wednesday morning said that system-wide, boosters must “be received by February 28, 2022 or six months after an individual received the final dose of the original vaccination, whichever is later,” but that individual campuses may choose to set earlier deadlines based on local conditions.

The policy will continue to include medical and religious exemptions.

“Vaccination, including a booster when eligible, remains our most effective strategy against infection and severe disease,” CSU Chancellor Joseph I. Castro said in a prepared statement.

“This is particularly important in light of the rapid rise of cases of COVID-19 throughout the state and nation as the Omicron variant spreads. Implementing the booster requirement now will help mitigate the potential spread of the variant on campuses as they repopulate in January after the winter break.”

A formal update to public university system’s vaccine mandate is pending a meet-and-confer process with labor unions, according to the CSU statement.

The announcement comes one day after University of California President Michael Drake instructed chancellors of the 10 UC campuses to craft plans for a safe return to campus in January, which includes a booster requirement.

“Under existing UC policy, students, faculty, and staff are required to keep their vaccination status up to date,” Drake also wrote. “The policy mandates COVID-19 boosters for those who are eligible.”

UC Davis Chancellor Gary May announced Tuesday the campus will enforce a UC system-wide mandate for a booster vaccine for all faculty, staff and students who do not have a vaccine exemption currently in place. By Jan. 31, everyone on campus must upload proof of receiving a vaccination booster through the UC Davis Health e-Messaging portal.

The seven UC undergraduate campuses that operate on a quarter schedule, with the 2022 winter quarter beginning Jan. 3, in separate announcements Tuesday said they will begin the quarter on a remote-learning basis: UC Davis will begin online-only for the first week of classes Jan. 3 to Jan. 7; and UCLA, UC Irvine, UC Riverside, UC San Diego, UC Santa Barbara and UC Santa Cruz will go virtual for the first two weeks, returning in person Jan. 18.

UC Berkeley and UC Merced, which are on the semester system and aren’t scheduled to return from winter break until Jan. 18, have not yet announced any change in return to campus, nor has UC San Francisco, a medical school on the quarter system.

As of early Wednesday, CSU campuses had not announced a transition to remote learning. Most of CSU’s 23 campuses, including Sacramento State, return from winter break later than the UC campuses, according to their academic calendars, starting their spring semester Jan. 24. A handful begin classes the week of Jan. 18.

Cal Poly San Luis Obispo has the earliest start in the CSU system, returning Jan. 3, and the Maritime Academy in Vallejo returns Jan. 10.

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