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COVID Compliance

Students in the RN-BSN/MSN, MSN, NP, MSN/MBA-HC, IPC Certificate and DNP programs:

Since the summer, healthcare organizations from across the country have been setting strict requirements around vaccinations for their healthcare professionals. In alignment with this decision, these organizations are now notifying their partner higher education institutions that nursing students will not be permitted to earn hours at their facilities unless the college or university can demonstrate an established COVID vaccination plan. It is essential that Post University maintain our affiliation agreements with these healthcare partners to ensure we are positioned to support you in the successful completion of your degree.

With limited exceptions, to maintain eligibility for placement under our partner affiliation agreements, Post University is requiring that you are COVID compliant by November 30, 2021.

You can demonstrate that you are COVID compliant by logging into Castlebranch and submitting one of the following:

  • Documentation of full vaccination:
    • 2 doses of Pfizer, Oxford-AstraZeneca or Moderna
    • 1 dose of Johnson & Johnson
  • Medical Declination
  • Religious Declination*

*Please note that vaccination exemptions require additional costs and requirements.

Please see Appendix A for details on medical and religious exemptions.

Students who have not met one of the above requirements by November 30 will be responsible for locating a site that accepts unvaccinated students (without medical or religious exemptions) and complete the process to gain site approval from the Nursing Leadership. For questions, please email the detailed question you have to asc-castlebranch.compliance@post.edu.

Medical exemptions – To be eligible for this exemption, you must provide a written statement signed by a physician, nurse practitioner, or other licensed medical professional practicing under the license of a physician, stating that you qualify for the exemption and that the vaccine is medically contraindicated as described in the product labeling approved or authorized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Medical exemptions must be documented and retained and will be housed in the secured Castlebranch system.

Religious exemptions – To be eligible for this exemption, you must provide a written statement signed by a key member of the religious order to which you belong. You must also identify the name of the religious affiliation, how long you have held this religious tenet or belief, and an explanation of why the vaccine is against your religion. Social, political, economic philosophies, or mere personal preference will not be considered “religious tenet or belief” for this exemption.

Students who have not met one of the above requirements by November 30 will be responsible for locating a site that accepts unvaccinated students (without medical or religious exemptions) and complete the process to gain site approval from the Nursing Leadership. For questions, please email the following with the detailed question that you have to this email asc-castlebranch.compliance@post.edu

The University has been required by our healthcare institutions and facilities across the country to establish a COVID compliance plan to maintain our affiliation agreements. The University has now established our plan and are communicating it to all enrolled students. Many of our students will not be able to complete their PE or clinical hour requirements if we cannot prove that we are following a plan of COVID compliance.

Clinical/Practice Sites: No COVID-19 Requirements

What is needed?

Students who select a clinical/practice site that accepts unvaccinated students without a medical or religious exemption or weekly testing/tracking will need to submit the two items on the checklist below using the following link: https://form.jotform.com/213256035583050

  1. A letter from the facility, on the facility’s letterhead. Please use either the template below to ensure that the letter includes the necessary content, including:
    1. Name of student
    2. Location of site
    3. Manager or authorized designee name and contact information
    4. Timeframe of clinical/practice experience on-site
  2. Acknowledgement by the student that no other activities will be completed at any other site during the identified timeframe. As a reminder, students who complete activities at another site, without previous approval, will be removed from the program.

Upon receipt of the letter, Post University will review to ensure all the above listed items are clearly addressed and none of the required information is missing.

Letter Template

< Site Letterhead >

Date

Manager or Authorized Designee
Contact Information
Location of Site

Dear American Sentinel College,

< Facility Name > does not require students who will complete clinical or practice experiences onsite to be vaccinated or provide an approved medical or religious exemption for COVID-19. < Student Name > will be onsite, completing clinical or practice experiences for the following dates xx/xx/xxxx through xx/xx/xxxx.

Sincerely,

Name and Title
Email Address and Phone Number

Regarding vaccinated students and COVID exposures, please follow these guidelines:

  • Students who are fully vaccinated, by an FDA approved COVID vaccine, and are exposed to COVID should immediately notify the preceptor/clinical site and Clinical/Practicum Coordinator.
  • They are expected to follow the CDC guidelines for vaccinated persons and COVID exposures. In addition, the student who is in the clinical site must follow the policy/procedure of the clinical site regarding testing and returning to the site. See this website for reference: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/fully-vaccinated-guidance.html

Regarding students with COVID vaccine exemptions (unvaccinated) and COVID exposures please follow these guidelines:

  • Students who are unvaccinated and hold an exemption approved by the University and are exposed to COVID should immediately notify preceptor/clinical site and Clinical/Practicum Coordinator.
  • They are to follow the CDC guidelines for unvaccinated persons and COVID exposures. In addition, the student who is in the clinical site must follow the policy/procedure of the site in regard to testing and returning to the site. See this website for reference: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/your-health/quarantine-isolation.html

Individuals that are vaccinated or unvaccinated who test positive for COVID:

  • All individuals who test positive for COVID are responsible for immediately notifying the preceptor/clinical site and Clinical/Practicum Coordinator.
  • Students are to follow the CDC guidelines surrounding their vaccination status.

These guidelines are based on the CDC recommendations.

A policy brief has been included regarding clinical/practice experiences and the obligations that the school has towards students. In summary, students may be denied entrance to clinical facilities if they are not vaccinated, even if they have a declination on file. It is up to each individual clinical agency whether a student may cross the threshold into the institution. In addition, the college/university is not required to alter any clinical or practice experiences for students who decline the COVID vaccine and are not allowed into healthcare institutions.

Policy Brief: Clinical Experiences for Unvaccinated Nursing Students

Purpose

To provide guidance to boards of nursing and nursing education programs that are receiving requests from students for alternate clinical experiences when the program’s clinical sites require the COVID-19 vaccine.

Context

Currently, nursing programs are receiving requests from unvaccinated students to provide alternate experiences when the designated clinical facility mandates the COVID-19 vaccine. These requests range from using 100% simulation as a substitute for the clinical experience to the program finding other types of activities and case studies/scenarios.

Much of the fear and concern over receiving the vaccine is based on misinformation and lack of knowledge about the vaccine and its development (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2021). According to one study, as of August 2021, 92% of nursing faculty were vaccinated or planned to be vaccinated and 86% of currently enrolled students have been vaccinated (National Student Nurses Association, 2021). Thus, it is a small number of students who are vaccine-hesitant and affected by vaccine mandates. This policy addresses these students.

Clinical experiences are integral to nursing education. NCSBN’s National Simulation Study (Hayden et al., 2014) demonstrated that up to 50% of clinical experience can be substituted with simulation. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) The Essentials: Core Competencies for Professional Nursing Education (2021), “Simulation experiences represent an important component of clinical education… However, care experiences with actual individuals or groups continue to be the most important component of clinical education…Simulation cannot substitute for all direct care practice experiences in any one sphere or for any one age group.” (page 21) As of Aug. 23, 2021, the Pfizer vaccine has received full Food and Drug Administration approval. The vaccine protects health care professionals and students as well as patients. In fact, millions of people in the U.S. have received COVID-19 vaccines. All three of the vaccines available in the U.S. have undergone the most rigorous safety monitoring in U.S. history (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2021).

The COVID-19 vaccine’s authorization is based on scientific evidence (Food and Drug Administration, 2021). Identifying, assessing, and integrating reliable evidence into one’s practice has been and continues to be an expectation for the preparation of professional nurses (AACN, 2021, 2008).

Unvaccinated individuals are at risk for contracting COVID-19, thereby increasing the chances for more variants to emerge and, more importantly, putting vulnerable individuals at risk; especially hospitalized patients, nursing home residents, health care professionals and peers who may be immunocompromised. (Plater, 2021).

Recommendations
  • Students should be vaccinated when clinical facilities require it so that they can participate in the clinical experience and progress in their programs.
  • Nursing education programs should reach out to students who are vaccine-hesitant and counsel the students about the benefit of the vaccine and the need for it as a student enrolled in a nursing program, and address myths and misleading information about the vaccine.
  • Course descriptions should include that a clinical component is required.
  • Nursing education programs are mandated by boards of nursing as well as accreditors to provide students with clinical experiences. They are not obligated to provide substitute or alternate clinical experiences based on a student’s request or vaccine preference.
  • Just as the nursing education program and/or clinical facilities require other vaccines, the facilities have the option to mandate the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Boards of nursing have no obligation to waive their current rules/regulations about clinical experiences for unvaccinated students.
  • Transparency is essential. Even if mandated by the academic institution, students can refuse the vaccine. Therefore, if the student refuses to be vaccinated and is not entitled to a reasonable accommodation under the disability laws* or is not entitled to a reasonable accommodation for a sincerely held religious belief* then, the student (a) may be disenrolled from the institution/nursing program or (b) may not be able to fulfill the clinical requirements of the program, resulting in them not graduating.
  • Accommodations made for students under the disability laws or for a sincerely held religious belief should be decided on a case-by-case basis.

* In providing an academic adjustment to students with disabilities, post-secondary schools are not required to lower or substantially modify essential requirements. (U.S. Department of Education, 2011)

References

American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN). (2021). The Essentials: core competencies for professional nursing education. Retrieved from https://www.aacnnursing.org/Portals/42/ AcademicNursing/pdf/Essentials-2021.pdf

American Association of Colleges of Nursing. (2008). The Essentials of Baccalaureate Education for Professional Nursing Practice. https://www.aacnnursing.org/Portals/42/Publications/ BaccEssentials08.pdf

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021, August 19). Key things to know about COVID-19 vaccines. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/keythingstoknow. html?s_cid=10493:covid%2019%20vaccine:sem.ga:p:RG:GM:gen:PTN:FY21

Food and Drug Administration. (2021, August 23). FDA approves first COVID-19 vaccine. Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/fda-approves-first-covid-19-vaccine

Hayden, J. K., Smiley, R. A., Alexander, M., Kardong-Edgren, S., & Jeffries, P. R. (2014). The NCSBN national simulation study: A longitudinal, randomized, controlled study replacing clinical hours with simulation in prelicensure nursing education. Journal of Nursing Regulation, 5(2), S3-S40.

National Student Nurses Association. (2021, August 16). Survey of vaccination status July 1 – August 15th for nursing students, faculty and new graduates reveals unexpected results. Retrieved from https://www.nsna.org/uploads/2/2/4/5/22459246/national_student_nurses_press_release_-_report_ of_july_2021_survey_of_vaccination_rates_-_final.pdf

Plater, R. (2021, August 10). Unvaccinated people are increasing the chances for more coronavirus variants — here’s how. Healthline. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health-news/unvaccinated- people-are-increasing-the-chances-for-more-coronavirus-variants-heres-how” target=”_blank”>https://www.healthline.com/health-news/unvaccinated- people-are-increasing-the-chances-for-more-coronavirus-variants-heres-how

United States Department of Education. (2011). Students with Disabilities Preparing for Postsecondary Education: Know Your Rights and Responsibilities. Retrieved from https://www2.ed.gov/about/ offices/list/ocr/transition.html United States Department of Health and Human Services. (2021). Addressing COVID-19 vaccine misconceptions. Retrieved from https://wecandothis.hhs.gov/outreach-tools/addressing-covid-19-vaccine-misconceptions