K-State, KU update vaccine policies after A.G. pushback

Kansas

TOPEKA, (KSNT) — Two major universities in Kansas are updating their vaccine policies after pressure from the Attorney General.

Kansas State University (K-State) made changes to their vaccine policy Wednesday, shortly after Kansas Capitol Bureau inquired about the issue. The University of Kansas (KU) also updated their policy recently, making changes to their exemption form Tuesday, and extending the deadline for vaccination to Jan. 18 to comply with the federal law.

Kansas Board of Regents President Blake Flanders spoke with Kansas Capitol Bureau soon after K-State finalized changes to their website. Flanders said both universities are now in full compliance with the state and federal law.

“As we heard from the Attorney General, we needed to update a couple of forms that had questions that were actually optional for participants, but we went ahead and removed those optional questions,” Flanders said. “Those forms have been updated, so now we’re in complete compliance.”

President Biden’s federal mandate requires federal contractors to be fully vaccinated by Jan. 18, which was changed from the prior deadline of Dec. 1.

However, a new Kansas law passed just last week requires employers to provide religious exemptions without questioning sincerely held religious beliefs. The law applies to any person in the state that employs one person or more.

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt slammed K-State and KU for not complying with the new law, sending a letter to the Board of Regents last week.

According to the letter, both universities used “intrusive written application materials when evaluating an employee’s request for an exemption”.

Now, KU’s religious exemption request form only requires employees to check a box to sign off on their exemption request.

K-State’s religious exemption form asks people to describe their sincerely held religious belief, as opposed to several optional questions listed prior.

“We don’t see any conflict between the federal and the state law,” Flanders said. “What has been difficult for universities is the speed that everything is rolled out. The landscape has shifted pretty quickly. We are going to be in compliance and certainly meet all the standards of the state law.”

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