TOPEKA (KSNT)– President Biden’s vaccine mandate is now coming to Kansas universities.
Three major state universities, the University of Kansas, Kansas State University and Wichita State University, confirmed Friday it will be requiring coronavirus vaccinations for employees.
According to a spokesperson for the Kansas Board of Regents, KBOR, a memo was issued Thursday notifying universities that are impacted by the president’s vaccine mandate to comply, since they have federal contracts in place.
“So far three state universities (Wichita State, K-State and KU) have determined that they have federal contracts that are critical to their missions. Because of these contracts, the federal vaccine mandate applies to their employees.”Spokesperson, Kansas Board of Regents
The federal contracts bring in significant revenue for schools. Schools like Kansas State hold federal contracts for research, employment and other ventures. KSN reports that Pittsburg State University, Emporia State University and Fort Hays State University were also notified, but have yet to comment.
The three universities will now be implementing the federal mandate, requiring employees to be fully vaccinated by Dec. 8. The requirement is a condition of employment, meaning that employees that do not meet the deadline for being fully vaccinated will be fired.
The spokesperson explained KBOR President Blake Flanders issued a memo to state university CEOs, which acknowledges the “difficult position” state universities find themselves in because of state law prohibiting the use of funds to implement “vaccine passports” and the conflicting federal vaccine mandate. The guidance instructs state universities to “use non-state funds and federal overhead to finance the federally mandated vaccination requirements” to remain in compliance with the law.
With the federal mandate in effect, some universities will have to move forward with vaccination requirements, despite conflicting state laws, there are some exceptions provided under President Biden’s executive order.
WHO WILL NEED TO GET VACCINATED?
According to an announcement on Wichita State University’s website, all employees (including part-time, full-time and student employees) will be required to be fully vaccinated by Dec. 8, 2021, unless eligible for a medical or religious exemption. The announcement continues to note the mandatory vaccination obligations apply even to those covered employees who are working remotely (as long as they are working on or in connection with a covered contract). Similar information is noted in the KBOR president’s memo, which also mentions mask and social distancing requirements.
Kansas State University and the University of Kansas also announced Friday they will now require all employees get the COVID-19 vaccine, which rules out the possibility of showing weekly negative tests instead.
According to a slide from Taber’s presentation “it has been determined that this executive order applies to Kansas research universities and their employees… regardless if they work on federal contracts.”
K-State did also confirm 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
With the Dec. 8 deadline for employees to get fully vaccinated right around the corner, universities, like Wichita State, are encouraging workers to get vaccinated as soon as possible.
“Given the short timeframe for implementation and the length of vaccination protocols (in some cases, taking up to six weeks), unvaccinated employees should seek their first vaccine dose immediately. ”WICHITA STATE UNIVERSITY ANNOUNCEMENT
As of Friday, when the announcements were made, employees at participating universities have about 47 days, or just a little more than a month, to get vaccinated. Wichita State also provided a list of target dates for employees to meet the requirement:
- Moderna (two doses): First vaccination dose on or before Oct. 27, 2021
- Pfizer (two doses): First vaccination dose on or before Nov. 3, 2021
- Johnson and Johnson (one dose): Vaccination on or before Nov. 24, 2021.
Unlike Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot coronavirus vaccine, vaccines made by Pfizer and Moderna are a two-dose series, and require a waiting period between the first and second dose. According to the CDC, the recommended interval between doses is 21 days (three weeks) for Pfizer-BioNTech and 28 days (4 weeks) for Moderna.