Federal Vaccine Mandate FAQ

UPDATE [12/8/2021]: Since this announcement was initially made, a federal judge in Georgia entered a nationwide injunction that temporarily stopped the enforcement of Executive Order (EO 14042). SMU is now pausing the requirement that all employees be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by January 18, 2022, unless and until the courts instruct otherwise. Follow smu.edu/coronavirus for the latest updates.

Employee Guidance

Will SMU require vaccination for employees?

Yes. Employees may seek a medical or religious exemption which must be approved prior to the January 18, 2022 deadline for compliance.

Why did SMU adopt a vaccination requirement for employees?

On September 9, 2021, President Biden issued an executive order (EO 14042) mandating, among other things, that all workplaces with certain federal contracts greater than $250,000 require all their employees to be vaccinated or seek a medical or religious exemption.

SMU evaluated the executive order and subsequent updated guidelines from the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force and determined that the vaccine mandate applies to all SMU employees, regardless of whether they directly work on federal contracts. This includes faculty, staff, temporary employees, student employees, graduate research/teaching assistants/associates, and postdoctoral scholars. It does not apply to visitors or volunteers.

Other guidelines, such as masking in certain situations and social distancing where possible will also apply to SMU after the January 18, 2022 deadline.

As a private university, why is SMU considered a federal contractor?

Because SMU accepts funding from federal contracts in excess of $250,000, the executive order (EO 14042) applies to the University and all of its employees.

Do student employees need to meet the vaccine requirement?

Yes. The vaccine requirement applies to all individuals employed at SMU who are paid through the University’s payroll system including undergraduate and graduate student – employees (full-time and part-time.)

Do students have to be vaccinated?

No, unless students are employed by SMU, they are considered “visitors” under EO 14042. However, students and campus visitors must comply with other safety aspects of the order such as masking in certain situations and social distancing where possible after the January 18, 2022 deadline.

What does it mean to be “fully vaccinated”?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers an individual is “fully vaccinated” 14 days after completing their vaccine series, which means two weeks after receiving the second COVID-19 dose in a two-dose series (Pfizer and Moderna), or two weeks after the single dose (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine. 

Under the updated guidelines, all SMU employees need to receive all required vaccine doses by January 4, 2022, to be fully vaccinated by January 18, 2022.

Which vaccines will satisfy the vaccine requirement?

Any COVID-19 vaccine approved by the World Health Organization (WHO) will satisfy the vaccine requirement. SMU offers approved vaccines through the Dr. Bob Smith Health Center but you can also obtain them at some pharmacies or your physician. 

What if I am not fully vaccinated by the deadline?

The EO 14042 requires all employees to be fully vaccinated by January 18, 2022, unless they have been granted an accommodation for religious or medical reasons through SMU’s Office of Institutional Access and Equity (IAE). If a medical or religious accommodation to the vaccination requirement is granted, the University will provide reasonable accommodations under the applicable law. 

The federal vaccine mandate makes the COVID-19 vaccination a condition of employment –meaning SMU employees must provide proof to SMU that they are fully vaccinated, or have an exemption request approved by SMU by January 18, 2022, to continue working at the University. Employees who do not comply with this requirement, or are not otherwise exempt, are subject to discipline under University employment policies up to and including unpaid leave and/or termination. Policies that apply include SMU Policy 7.24, Corrective Action for Staff, SMU Policy 2.17 Procedural Standards for Faculty Sanctions and Dismissals, and/or SMU Policy 11.8 Infectious Diseases.

Can I work from home to avoid the vaccination requirement?

No. An unvaccinated employee who is not eligible for a medical or religious accommodation may not work remotely to avoid the vaccination requirement. Additionally, the EO 14042 and federal guidance clearly state that the vaccination requirement applies even to employees working from home. 

Under the vaccine requirement, can I show proof of a negative COVID-19 test instead to continue working instead of getting the vaccine?

No, the federal mandate that applies to SMU does not permit a testing option. 

How can I prove that I’ve been vaccinated?
  • If you received your vaccine at an off-campus location and have not provided proof yet, you will need to upload your vaccine information through the health center portal to provide a record to the University. You are urged to do this by December 1, 2021 but required to provide that documentation not later than January 18, 2022.
  • If you received your vaccine at the Dr. Bob Smith Health Center on campus, or if you have previously uploaded your vaccine information through the health center portal, you don’t need to do anything. Your vaccination card is on record with the University.
  • SMU may be able to retrieve and confirm your vaccine record through ImmTrac, the Texas Immunization Registry, if you were vaccinated at an off-campus site in Texas. Follow this link to provide SMU with consent to track down your record.
  • Please note that individuals who previously uploaded an image of their card/proof may not see the photo if it has already been successfully translated to the vaccination records in the system. Follow these directions to confirm.
How can I upload proof I’ve received a vaccine?

You will need to upload your COVID-19 vaccine information through the health center portal

You are urged to do this by December 1, 2021 but required to provide that documentation not later than January 18, 2022.

Here are the steps:

1. Log in to the health center portal using your SMU credentials.

2. Click “Enter my COVID-19 vaccine information” on the portal’s main home screen.

3. In the appropriate fields, enter the vaccines which were administered to you as well as the dates you received them.

4. Upload a photo of your COVID-19 vaccine card. 

5. Click “Done.”

What should I do if I lost proof of my vaccine?
  • If you were vaccinated on-campus, the Dr. Bob Smith Health Center maintains a record of your vaccination. No further action is required.
  • SMU may be able to retrieve and confirm your vaccine record through ImmTrac, the Texas Immunization Registry, if you were vaccinated at an off-campus site in Texas. Follow this link to provide SMU with consent to track down your record.
  • If you would prefer for SMU not to locate your record, please check with the provider that administered your vaccine for instructions on how to retrieve your vaccination proof. 
  • Additional information on how to obtain a new vaccination card or other evidence of vaccination also can be found on the CDC website.

What does SMU consider proof of vaccination?

SMU is accepting the following records:

  • A CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card (white card); 
  • A World Health Organization Vaccine Record Card (yellow card); 
  • Your medical records documenting the vaccination
  • Immunization records from a public health, state, or tribal health 
  • Documentation of vaccination from the health care or other provider where you received the vaccine
  • Other official documentation containing the type of vaccine along with the date(s) and name of the health care professional or clinic that administered it
Can I get a vaccine on campus?

Yes. The University is an approved provider to make it as easy as possible for our employees (and their spouses and dependents ages 12 and older) and students to get the vaccine at no cost to them through the Dr. Bob Smith Health Center. You can schedule your vaccine with your SMU credentials through the health center portal, or by calling 214-768-2141.

The vaccine is free at all locations. Some providers may charge an administrative fee which is covered by SMU Insurance if the employee is enrolled. 

What are the requirements for receiving an accommodation based on medical or religious reasons?

To learn more about how to request an exemption for medical or religious reasons and receive an accommodation from SMU, click here.

How long does it take to find out if my religious/medical accommodation has been granted/denied?

Religious and medical accommodations are being processed by IAE as quickly as possible—many within one to two business days of receiving them. Applicants can ensure a timely response by filling out all the required fields.

What happens if my exemption request has not been granted by the January 18 deadline?

If you are not vaccinated or have not received an approved accommodation by January 18, 2022, you will be subject to discipline under University employment policies up to and including unpaid leave and/or termination. Policies that apply include SMU Policy 7.24, Corrective Action for Staff, SMU Policy 2.17 Procedural Standards for Faculty Sanctions and Dismissals, and/or SMU Policy 11.8 Infectious Diseases.

I have already had COVID-19. Do I still have to be vaccinated?

Yes. EO 14042 also applies to individuals who have previously contracted COVID-19.

Isn’t it a HIPAA violation to ask for vaccination status and/or require it?

No. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services states that the Privacy Rule does not apply to employment records and does not prohibit a person or business from asking whether an individual has received a particular vaccine, including COVID-19 vaccines.

What about the legal challenges that have been filed to stop the federal vaccine requirement from going into effect?

SMU is closely following the status of these cases and will comply with any court ruling that would apply to our University. However, because of the narrow timeline to meet the federal requirements, SMU is moving forward with communications and preparation necessary to comply with the executive order by the current January 18, 2022 deadline.

If I am on an approved leave, including but not limited to FMLA, military, maternity, etc., does this requirement still apply to me?

Yes. EO14042 does not exclude individuals on an approved leave. Employees must submit vaccine documentation to the health center portal by January 18, 2022.

If I am terminated due to failure to comply with the COVID-19 vaccination requirement, do I qualify for unemployment?

Decisions about who qualifies for unemployment are made by the Texas Workforce Commission.

What if a booster shot is eventually required under the federal mandate?

Currently, the federal vaccine mandate does not require employees to receive a booster shot in order to be considered fully vaccinated. As federal guidelines and mandates change, the University will communicate how these changes affect students, faculty and staff. Vaccinated employees must wear a mask indoors whenever Dallas County has a high or substantial rate of transmission as defined by the Centers for Disease Control guidelines.

SMU COVID-19 Employee Testing

SMU faculty and staff (and eligible dependents) have several convenient options for no-cost COVID-19 testing, including through MyLabsDirect, Virtual Care for Families, your local health/pharmacy provider, or by using an over-the-counter test at home. The Dr. Bob Smith Health Center is not offering testing for employees at this time.


Testing Options (click to expand)

Red=On/off campus testing

(administered by health professional)

Blue=Off campus testing

(administered by health professional)

Yellow=at home testing

(self administered)

MyLabsDirect (New)

COVID-19 testing is now available for SMU employees and their dependents and spouses on campus at Expressway Tower or at various MyLabsDirect locations throughout DFW.

Scheduling a time is required at Expressway Tower (on campus), but not at other MYLabsDirect locations. No pre-screening or virtual doctor visit is required at any location.

Expressway Tower Hours

Monday to Friday: 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Located at 6116 North Central Expressway (look for the MyLabsDirect van).

Other DFW Locations

Drive-up testing without an appointment is also available at no cost to benefit-eligible employees and their spouses and dependents at multiple MyLabsDirect locations in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex.

Plano – 610 Coit Rd, Plano 75075 – 7 days a week, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
*Farmers Branch – 4099 McEwen Rd, Dallas 75244 – M-F, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Rockwall – 1600 Airport Rd, Rockwall 75087 – M-F, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Royse City – 650 FM 2642, Royse City 75189 – M-F, 9 a.m. to 3:45p.m.


Expressway Tower Steps

1. Schedule an exam by clicking the button below. Confirmation of your appointment will be emailed to you.

2. To ensure faster processing, fill out the online questionnaire before your test. The form will also be available on-site via a QR code if you forget.

3. Drive up to the testing site at Expressway Tower (6116 North Central Expressway) and look for the MyLabsDirect van/signage.

4. Park in a designated MyLabsDirect/SMU space

5. A nurse will collect your sample

6. Watch your email. If you are an SMU employee and test positive, remember to report your result to the University using the link at the bottom of this page.


Off Campus MyLabsDirect Steps

1. Scheduling appointments ahead of time is not required, but you should fill out the online questionnaire before your planned test. The form will also be available on-site via a QR code.

2. Drive up to your desired MyLabsDirect location (see below) and alert the on-site staff that you are with SMU and have arrived for testing.

*Farmers Branch is not a drive-up site, so if you would like to test at this location, please call 877-355-7978 upon arrival to let MyLabsDirect know you are in the parking lot.

3. A nurse will collect your sample.

4. Watch your email for results. If you are an SMU employee and you test positive, remember to report your results to the University using the link below.


PCR results will be available via email usually within 24 hours after the test is conducted.

If you have questions, call 1-877-355-7978.

Virtual Care for Families

Convenient no-cost COVID-19 testing is available for SMU faculty, staff and benefits eligible spouses and dependents at 9 DFW Virtual Care for Families locations. The closest testing center to the SMU campus is minutes away on the corner of Preston Rd. and Forest Ln. (see below). Other locations in Arlington, Frisco, Garland, McKinney and Plano may be convenient to your home or along your commute to and from work. They are open 7-days a week. Locations and maps are listed at the bottom of the appointment page. Results are typically available same day.

Step 1

Book an appointment for a virtual visit using the link below


Step 2

You will be led to the following page:, where you will click on the green button:


Step 3

Complete form on following page (and pay particular attention to the information indicated in the red boxes below):


Step 4

You will receive a confirmation email and text that may look like the images below. Follow the links provided to fill in additional information before your virtual visit:


Step 5

Once you complete your virtual visit, you will be directed and scheduled to the closest available Urgent Care for Kids location. Please arrive at the designated parking spots at your scheduled time. Once the test is administered, you can expect results within two hours.

IMPORTANT

There should be no out-of-pocket cost to you for scheduling a COVID-19 exam if you follow these steps.

Health agency or pharmacy provider

Testing is also available free of cost to you and your benefits-eligible dependents through your SMU benefits at pharmacies, health care providers and testing sites off campus. Additionally, the Department of Health and Human Services, State of Texas and Dallas County offer resources of where to find COVID-19 tests:

Testing kit purchased at a pharmacy – BCBSTX reimbursements (New)

SMU’s health benefits provider, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas (BCBSTX), is providing coverage for at-home COVID-19 tests, as now required by the federal government.


Here is what you need to know:


• The over the counter (OTC) diagnostic tests must be FDA-authorized.
• Costs are covered up to $12 per test from an in-network pharmacy or through a direct-to-consumer shipping program. (Benefit eligible members can order COVID-19 tests directly through a vendor partner, such as Walgreens and other major pharmacy chains.)
• An extensive network of participating pharmacies (more than 65,000) is available under this BCBSTX coverage.
• No prescription or health assessment from a provider is required.
• Up to eight (8) tests are allowed per covered member, every 30 days.
• Coverage is effective through the end of the federal public health emergency

IMPORTANT: Some pharmacies may offer tests in the regular store shelves, not behind the counter where prescriptions are filled and where pharmacists are accustomed to processing insurance.

To purchase the at-home test without having to file a reimbursement claim, check with your pharmacy and be sure to bring your BCBSTX card with you. Otherwise, if you purchase at the main checkout counter, you will need to save the receipt, and file a claim for reimbursement (form below). OTC tests purchased prior to January 15, 2022, are not in scope and will not be reimbursed.

If you order your test online from an in-network pharmacy, you can file a claim by using the form below:

Covidtests.gov

Every home in the U.S. is eligible to order four free at-⁠home COVID-⁠19 tests. The tests are completely free. Orders will usually ship in 7-12 days.

What should I do if I feel symptomatic or test positive and the Health Center is closed?

For COVID-19 emergencies such as trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion, inability to wake or stay awake, bluish lips, or face, call 911.

Students who need a test or consultation when the Dr. Bob Smith Health Center is closed can receive treatment through one of the local urgent care center listed here. The closest such facility to SMU is the Sanai Urgent Care Center (3414 Milton Ave., Dallas, TX 75205 // 469-522-3995).

If you test positive at an urgent care facility, or have come into close contact with a known positive case when the Health Center is closed, first fill out the CCC Form. A contact tracer will provide more guidance.

In the event a contact tracer does not reach out to you immediately upon filling out the form, follow CDC guidelines and isolate.

I am an SMU parent and am not receiving SMU communication such as email. How do I sign up?

To receive all university updates, your student needs to go into their my.smu account and grant permission for you to receive updates. To receive notifications from SMU alerts, please text SMUParent to 888777. Also, please follow COVID-19 updates at smu.edu/coronavirus.

What if I test positive for COVID-19?

Students who have tested positive, or have come into close contact with an individual who has tested positive, should stay home and submit a CCC form. They will receive a phone call from a member of the SMU contact tracing team to discuss symptoms, current living situation, isolation procedures, close contacts and academic support.

Employees who test positive should complete the SMU Health Reporting Form and remain at home. If a dependent tests positive, employees should contact their supervisor for additional instructions.

SMU COVID-19 Student Testing

On campus at the Dr. Bob Smith Health Center

  • Students who need a test can contact the Dr. Bob Smith Health Center at 214-768-2141 to schedule an appointment.
  • If you are enrolled in the University-sponsored health insurance plan: Costs are fully covered without additional steps.
  • If you are enrolled in a non-University health insurance plan (such as your parent’s): Costs are typically fully covered after filing a claim.
    • You will receive a charge for testing on your student portal, which most insurance providers will fully reimburse if you file a claim.
    • In the event your insurance denies your claim, contact the Health Center and ask for assistance on testing costs.

Through an off-campus pharmacy or health provider

  • If the Health Center is closed, students can receive a test through their local pharmacy (CVS, Walgreens) or in some cases, one of the local urgent care center listed here.
  • Students who test positive must complete a Caring Community Connections Form to report their status. The University case management team will follow up with information about isolation and quarantine procedures, if needed.

Additionally, the Department of Health and Human Services, State of Texas and Dallas County offer resources of where to find COVID-19 tests.

At home using an over-the-counter test

At-home testing kits are becoming more widely available through local pharmacies and health clinics. In the event you test positive through one of these kits, you should report your status to SMU through the CCC Form.

If reporting a COVID-19 positive test result for yourself or another SMU student, select “Confirmed COVID-19 Positive” in the “Nature of Report” section.

Also, include the following in Question 2 of “Incident Details”:

  • Date of Onset of Symptoms and Description of Symptoms
  • Date of Positive Test
  • Residence (Commons, Fraternity or Sorority House, or Off-Campus)