K-State, KU gives staff deadline to get COVID-19 vaccine

Coronavirus

FILE – In this Jan. 21, 2021, file photo, a medical staff member prepares the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at Tudor Ranch in Mecca, Calif. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

MANHATTAN, Kan. (KSNT) – Kansas State University and the University of Kansas both announced Friday they will now require all employees get the COVID-19 vaccine, ruling out the possibility of showing weekly negative tests instead.

K-State Provost Charles Taber announced in a virtual town hall for staff that all employees must be fully vaccinated by Wednesday, Dec. 8. KU’s Chancellor Douglas Girod followed shortly after in a letter to university employees, and gave them the same deadline to get the vaccine. The two universities’ decisions take the federal vaccine mandate from Biden a step further, since the federal rules announced in September still allow workers at large employers to opt into showing negative COVID-19 tests weekly.

Taber’s presentation in the town hall indicates that because Biden also made an executive order requiring the vaccine for federal employees and contractors, that requirement with no testing option also included K-State. In a memo to the six state universities it regulates, the Kansas Board of Regents told the two universities they must comply with the executive order from President Joe Biden about vaccines if they hold federal contracts.

A slide from K-State’s virtual town hall, which lays out the new requirement for employees. (Courtesy Photo/Kansas State University)

“It has been determined that this executive order applies to Kansas research universities and their employees… regardless if they work on federal contracts,” a slide in the presentation reads. “There is no test-out option.”

K-State did also confirm that students will not have to get vaccinated as long as they are not also university employees.

“K-State has more than 275 federal contracts and cooperative agreements, affecting almost every aspect of our university… This requirement applies to all K-State faculty and staff as well as graduate and undergraduate student employees. The COVID-19 vaccination is a condition of employment; employees who are not fully vaccinated or do not receive approval for a medical or religious exemption may be prohibited from engaging in work after Dec. 8, 2021.”

Kansas State University Division of Communications and Marketing

KU’s chancellor said that the college based in Lawrence must also follow suit in requiring vaccines because it holds contracts as well.

“KU participates in millions of dollars in federal contracts that fund research, employment and educational efforts, all of which are at risk if we are not aligned with the executive order. For this reason, we cannot be flexible with employees who choose not to comply with the vaccine requirement. “

Chancellor Douglas Girod, University of Kansas

While K-State will not have a test option that impacts the vaccine requirement for staff, it does offer COVID-19 testing services for students and faculty at Lafene Health Center. It does require some students to get tested for COVID-19 depending on where they live while attending.

“The university generally will not require employees, students or visitors to undergo testing for COVID-19. However, in limited circumstances, certain employees, students or visitors may be required to undergo testing at reasonable intervals if the individuals will be engaging in activities where the risk of transmission of COVID-19 is high, or if participating in the activity while actively infected or after having been infected could present a significant health risk. In addition, students residing in on-campus housing will be required to be tested for COVID-19 before moving into residence halls.”

Kansas State University

Watch the virtual town hall where K-State made the announcement below:

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December 31 2021 11:59 pm