Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey on Tuesday spoke out against Arizona State University’s (ASU) new vaccine policy, which calls for all students to get vaccinated while requiring unvaccinated students to get daily health checks, twice weekly COVID-19 tests, and generally wear masks at all times on campus.
“This is bad policy, with no basis in public health,” Ducey wrote in a series of tweets. “The vaccine works. But the vaccine is a choice. This policy is social engineering at its worst.”
In a Monday statement, an ASU official said that as the college returns to in-person learning in the fall semester, all students enrolled in on-campus programs are expected to be fully vaccinated two weeks before Aug. 19, the first day of classes.
Students who are unable to be vaccinated for whatever reason or who don’t agree to share their vaccination status will be required to undergo daily health checks, participate in twice weekly COVID-19 testing, and wear facial coverings in all ASU campus spaces—both indoor and outdoor.
Vaccinated students who provide proof of vaccination will not be subject to the above restrictions, though they—along with everyone else on campus—are encouraged to wear masks in crowded areas.
“As Sun Devils, we commit to being part of the ASU Community of Care where we take care of ourselves, each other and our community,” Vice President of Student Services Joanne Vogel said in the statement. “Managing COVID-19 is both a matter of personal responsibility and public health, and we ask that you follow all protocols as they apply to our collective well-being.”
In objecting to ASU’s new vaccine policy, Ducey suggested it was unscientific.
“Health policy should be based on science, not virtue signaling. In America, freedom wins,” Ducey wrote.
While Ducey did not specify which aspects of ASU’s new vaccine policy he finds objectionable on grounds of science, the college’s masking requirement is more restrictive than recently updated guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC), which recommend masking for unvaccinated people in all indoors scenarios but not outdoors, provided they’re outside with members of the same household or attending a small, outdoor gathering with fully vaccinated people. Fully vaccinated people need not need to wear masks under any circumstances, according to the CDC.
Ducey added that he plans to issue an executive order “that will ensure this excessive policy is never enforced” and that calls on state lawmakers to codify his order into law.
It is unclear what, if any, enforcement mechanisms ASU intends to have in place to verify the vaccination status of students. The Office of the President did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Ducey’s remarks or to a request for information on whether there would be monitors on campus, asking students to display proof of vaccination.
It comes after a failed effort by Arizona lawmakers to ban state and local governments, as well as public universities like ASU, from mandating COVID-19 “vaccine passports.”
Vaccine passports have been criticized by civil liberties groups, who say they would potentially violate Americans’ privacy rights while denying key services to people who aren’t vaccinated.