State university employees must be fully vaccinated by December 8, 2021.

The Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning Board of Trustees has decided that all of the state’s public universities must require faculty and staff to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. This decision comes in accordance with President Joe Biden’s recent executive order requiring vaccinations, Order 14042.

The IHL has not expanded the requirement to students.

However, the new requirement is a change from their September decision not to make vaccination a prerequisite of employment. At that time, the IHL Board went a step further and voted to prohibit colleges and universities from implementing a COVID vaccine mandate for employment or enrollment except for in clinical settings.

RELATED:  IHL Board prohibits COVID vaccine in public universities as condition of employment, student enrollment

Incentives for students and faculty who did choose to get the vaccine were given to all eight of the state’s public universities.

With President Biden’s mandate, the White House reported that all institutions who sign up will be listed on the White House website, and will be featured Vaccine Champion Colleges throughout the summer in social media, events, and remarks.  The administration also promised to facilitate events for colleges to learn from each other – panels, communities of practice, and more – and we will provide toolkits, best practices, communications materials for engaging parents, and briefings with Administration officials.

RELATED: Federal. Vaccine. Mandates.

The change from IHL came during the October 25 board meeting, with the looming executive order deadlines which require the first dose of Moderna be received by October 27, Pfizer by November 3 or Johnson and Johnson by November 24th.

During the meeting a motion was made to change the prior board direction in order to comply with the federal mandate. The motion was approved by a vote of 9-3. Those voting in opposition were Teresa Hubbard, Jeanne Luckey, and Gregory Radar.

Hubbard brought up that the language of the motion was sent out at 11:30 p.m. the evening before, and some said they never received the full motion. She made an attempt during the meeting to postpone the vote in order to thoroughly absorb the information.

She argued for more time and said that the motion should simply require universities to comply with the federal vaccine mandate, without the additional language in the motion. Her attempt to obtain more time was not granted and the original motion eventually passed.

Mississippi State University released the following statement from President Mark Keenum after the decision by the IHL was made.

“Mississippi State University is governed by the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning, as are all of our state’s public universities. The Board must comply with all state and federal laws and guidelines, including presidential executive orders from the White House. Therefore, the Board’s resolution today [Oct. 25] that mandates university employees in the state be fully vaccinated is the direct result of President Biden’s Executive Order 14042 and its stipulation that federal contractors be vaccinated.

“As a National Science Foundation Top 100 research university, Mississippi State has extensive contracts with the federal government and partnerships with many federal agencies that are affected by President Biden’s order. MSU will comply with this directive from the Board of Trustees, as we do with all of the Board’s guidance. We are beginning the process of notifying employees of the federal vaccine requirement, as well as the exemptions available to them under the law for which they may be eligible.”

Ole Miss Chancellor Glenn Boyce also issued a statement:

“I’m writing to you about the University of Mississippi’s response to the vote earlier today by the Board of Trustees of the State Institutions of Higher Learning directing all universities to comply with an Executive Order issued last month by President Biden on “Ensuring Adequate COVID Safety Protocols for Federal Contractors.”

“To comply with the order, the University of Mississippi will require all UM employees (including faculty, staff, graduate and undergraduate student employees) to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19. Please note that this vaccination requirement is a condition of employment at the university, not a condition of enrollment. If you are a student who is not employed by the university, you are not required to be vaccinated. The IHL Board kept in place its directive preventing COVID-19 vaccine mandates as a condition of enrollment.

“If you are a student employee (graduate or undergraduate) of the University of Mississippi, this vaccine mandate will apply to you and vaccination will be required for employment. Student employees will receive a separate communication with additional details.

“The university continues to follow health and safety guidance when determining the university’s response to COVID-19. I want to encourage all students to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, regardless of employment status, as vaccination remains the best way to avoid contracting and spreading COVID-19. Please visit the university’s vaccination web page for additional information, including information about on campus vaccine clinics at Johnson Commons on Oct. 26, 28, 29, and Nov. 2, 3, 9, 17, 19 and 30.

“Be safe. Be responsible.”

All employees, except those who meet the exemption requirements, must be fully vaccinated by December 8, 2021. Those exemptions will include religious and medical reasons.