Mississippi public universities are withdrawing policies requiring employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 after an injunction from a federal judge barring the Biden administration from enforcing its vaccination mandate for federal contractors.
Spokesmen for the University of Mississippi, Mississippi State University, University of Southern Mississippi and Jackson State University told The Associated Press on Friday that schools had halted their efforts to demand vaccination of employees.
The other four universities in the state – Mississippi University for Women, Alcorn State University, Delta State University, and Mississippi Valley State University – have never made vaccination of employees mandatory because they are not considered federal contractors covered by the Order of President Joe Biden, Mississippi Valley State University spokesman Donell Maxie mentioned.
In a letter to employees announcing Wednesday the suspension of the immunization tenure of University of Mississippi employees, Chancellor Glenn Boyce thanked the thousands of workers who “rallied quickly” to submit their immunization cards or exemption requests for review by the January 4 deadline. He said the university always encourages all employees to get the vaccine.
“While this action remains the mandate, the benefits of getting the vaccine are clear,” he wrote.
He said the university would monitor any further development of the law, including any appeals of Georgia’s decision and other court cases related to the vaccination mandate.
“As the courts make their decisions, this situation may change,” Boyce wrote. “If the warrant is restored by a court, we will adjust our efforts accordingly. “
In their messages to staff this week, officials at Mississippi State University and the University of Southern Mississippi said they plan to keep their vaccination portals open so employees can submit proof of. vaccination if they wish.
The vaccination mandate for the University of Mississippi Medical Center will remain in effect.
Biden’s Sept. 9 executive order required that employees performing work related to federal contracts be vaccinated, unless they were eligible for a medical, disability or religious exemption. The order said contractors were to be vaccinated by December 8. That deadline was then extended to January 4 to give workers more time to comply.
The Mississippi Higher Education Institutions Board of Trustees reluctantly voted to enforce the ordinance on Oct. 25 until the ordinance was stayed, delayed or revoked.
Mississippi universities have about 120 federal contracts totaling at least $ 271 million.
The vote was a reversal from a previous decision taken in September by the board of directors to ban public universities from requiring COVID-19 vaccinations unless students or employees work in a clinical setting, such as at the University of Mississippi Medical Center.
Tuesday. U.S. District Court Judge R. Stan Baker in Augusta, Georgia has issued a stay to prevent the warrant from being enforced nationwide.
The order came in response to a lawsuit filed by several contractors and seven states – Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, South Carolina, Utah and West Virginia. It applies across the United States because one of those disputing the order is the Associated Builders and Contractors Inc. trade group, whose members do business across the country.
Judge Baker said states would likely succeed in arguing that Biden had exceeded Congressional clearance when he issued the requirement in September. ___
Leah Willingham is a member of the Associated Press / Report for America Statehouse News Initiative Corps. Report for America is a national, nonprofit service program that places reporters in local newsrooms to cover undercover issues.