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COO Larry Sampler shares more information on Denver’s recent Public Health Order requiring vaccination for post-secondary-education employees.

By Larry Sampler, chief operating officer

August 5, 2021

Larry SamplerDear Roadrunners,

This week, Gov. Jared Polis and Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock spoke about the increasing rates of Covid-19 infection in Colorado and Denver and about the threat of the Delta variant. Especially as we are approaching the winter months, when respiratory infections tend to thrive, Polis and Hancock again urged all eligible Coloradans to get vaccinated.

Hancock also issued a Public Health Order that applies to a number of organizations in the City and County of Denver, including Metropolitan State University of Denver, mandating that all post-secondary employees (including contract employees and student-employees) be vaccinated by Sept. 30. Hancock said this directive is not intended to punish or denigrate anyone who has not taken the vaccine, and that it will include exemptions.

This is a position MSU Denver has already held for several months, but it does add urgency and even greater accountability to our goal to get all Roadrunners fully vaccinated. It also means we will have to reevaluate certain procedures and protocols, and we are working quickly to better understand the order as it applies to proof of vaccination, exemptions and testing requirements. We are in close communication with the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment, state higher education leaders and fellow higher ed institutions to discuss processes and next steps.

Here’s what we do know: Some form of "proof" of vaccination will be required, rather than a simple attestation for employees. We also know that the City and County of Denver is relying on employers to ensure that employees are complying with the Public Health Order and that employers are maintaining records of compliance. Details regarding proof of vaccination and related recordkeeping will be worked out in the days ahead, and we will communicate them as soon as they are available.

In response to this public health order, the Roadrunners Safe Return Committee has expanded its membership and the Roadrunners Safe Return Steering Committee has increased the frequency of meetings to hasten decision making and provide Roadrunners with clear policies and next steps. The good news is that we have already made significant progress toward our internal vaccination goal, and the University is well-positioned to meet this public health requirement.

We know this announcement and mandate will raise even more questions from our campus community, and we will work thoughtfully and thoroughly to answer them. This conversation will require collaboration from numerous Roadrunners, so thank you all in advance for your patience and your engagement in this process.

In the meantime, please continue to observe the Required Health Protocols and the Required Daily Health Assessment. If you are feeling sick, do not come to campus. Note too that these protocols apply to MSU Denver faculty and staff members even when they are on University business away from campus. If you’re required to wear a mask on campus because you’ve not been vaccinated, that same requirement will apply as you fulfill your duties on other campuses or around the region. Likewise, if you are visiting other organizations on behalf of MSU Denver, you must comply with that organization’s health protocols if they are more stringent than our own. Many organizations and businesses are beginning to require masks of all visitors, not just the unvaccinated.

If you have not been vaccinated and are able to be vaccinated, this article by Sanjay Gupta, M.D., offers an interesting perspective and I recommend it.

Additionally, positive Covid-19 case protocols are in place for office and classroom settings; find protocol details here.

Let me end this column the way I’ve begun many others, by recognizing that we are all suffering from Covid-19 exhaustion. Please continue to be patient and kind. I’m neck-deep in the science and policies surrounding Covidi-19, and yet I still believe that how we treat our fellow citizens will have the biggest impact in the long-term with respect to emerging from this crisis.

As always, if you have questions or concerns about our Safe Return to Campus, please reach out through this form or via email at


Larry Sampler 

Vice president for Administration, Finance and Facilities and chief operating officer

Topics: Administration, Health, Safety

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