Previously, Miami officials had strongly recommended vaccinations for students and staffers.
The university said students will not be permitted to register for spring semester classes unless they have begun the vaccination process with at least one dose by Oct. 25 or have received an approved exemption. Students will not be disenrolled for the fall term.
The announcement noted exemptions can be sought for medical reasons, religious reasons or for reasons of conscience, including ethical and philosophical beliefs.
The new vaccination policy applies to all students, faculty and staffers at Miami’s main Oxford campus and its regional campuses in Hamilton and Middletown.
The university’s announcement came hours after Oxford City Council’s action ordering a mask mandate.
A resolution authorizing the city manager to implement a COVID-19 vaccination policy for city employees was approved on a 7-0 vote of council with no public comment.
The mask mandate ordinance was approved on a 6-1 vote after public comment followed by council questions and discussion.
The ordinance is written to remain in effect until December 13, but council can end it sooner and said they would if the infection rate slows.
The resolution regarding city employee vaccinations authorizes the city manager to develop a vaccination policy for employees, but Oxford City Manager Doug Elliott said the policy was not yet fully developed and was not included in the council agenda packet.
He told council employees not vaccinated in the future would be tested weekly.
Elliott Tuesday told the Journal-News the current mask mandate “is somewhat less restrictive than our earlier version” and calls for no mask-wearing for outdoor settings and allows patrons in bars who are eating or drinking while standing to do so unmasked.
Patrons will have to mask up inside any public space within the city’s limits, including the bars and restaurants in Oxford. The mandate also applies to any form of public transportation.
“We’re trying to find a good middle ground … and trying to protect the health and safety of all our residents including the students at Miami University,” said Elliott.
Joel Parks, co-owner of the long-time Bodega Delicatessen in downtown Oxford, said he appreciates the city’s efforts toward more safety measures but is unsure of what it means yet for his business when it comes to enforcing the law among his customers.
“I already make sure my employees are wearing masks and I’m assuming in a day or two I’ll be hanging up a sign about masks required of customers,” said Parks.
“I’m not surprised this has happened,” he said.
Contributing Writer Bob Ratterman contributed to this story