Governor Doug Ducey lashed out at an Arizona State University policy requiring students to wear masks and submit to COVID-19 screenings if they don't get vaccinated for the Fall 2021 semester, saying on Twitter that he'll sign an executive order banning the policy.
On Monday evening, Ducey responded to a tweet by Arizona Representative TJ Shope that included a letter published on Monday by Dr. Joanne Vogel, vice president of student services. In the letter, Vogel reminds students what is in store for them unless they provide proof that they've been vaccinated at least two weeks before classes begin on August 19.
"Unvaccinated students or those who don't share their status will be required to: * Submit a daily health check. * Participate in twice weekly COVID-19 testing. * Wear face covers in all indoors and outdoor spaces on ASU campuses," Vogel wrote.
"This is bad policy, with no basis in public health," Ducey responded in his four-part Twitter thread. "Even the Biden Administration has been more reasonable."
He attached a quote by Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control, that said "it is people who are not fully vaccinated ... who might not be wearing a mask, who are not protected."
"The vaccine works," Ducey went on in the thread. "But the vaccine is a choice. This policy is social engineering at its worst. Health policy should be based on science, not virtue signaling. In America, freedom wins."
Ducey continued: "Public education is a public right, and taxpayers are paying for it. We need to make our public universities available for students to return to learning. In Arizona, we are going to have students in classrooms learning... I’ll be issuing an executive order that will ensure this excessive policy is never enforced, and asking the Legislature to codify the order into law."
ASU's vice president of communications, Katie Paquet, pushed back on Ducey's message in an email to Phoenix New Times.
"ASU is not mandating vaccinations for anyone at ASU," she wrote. "As students return to residence halls and classrooms in the fall, we are merely continuing to use the same testing and masking protocols in accordance with CDC guidelines that have been successfully employed over the past 15 months to limit the spread of COVID among members of the campus community who choose not to be vaccinated."
As New Times reported on Monday, ASU made the decision to return to nearly pre-pandemic levels of in-person classes, while the Maricopa County Community College District has decided to stay mostly online for the Fall 2021 semester. Neither the university nor the colleges are requiring students to get vaccinated.
ASU President Michael Crow met with Ducey as recently as June 8, but they talked about water policy and apparently didn't discuss ASU's vaccination plan. Ducey is an opponent of "vaccine passports" that require people to show proof of being vaccinated before obtaining services and signed an executive order on April 19 banning state and local governments from enacting such requirements.
Below — Ducey's tweet on Tuesday with an embedded copy of the new executive order: