KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The University of Kansas, Kansas State University and the University of Missouri all announced Tuesday that they will pause their COVID-19 vaccine mandates for employees following a federal court decision in Georgia.
KU's announcement came in a letter from university Chancellor Doug Girod and vice provost for human resources Mike Rounds.
"Earlier today, a federal judge in Georgia issued an injunction halting implementation of the federal COVID-19 vaccine mandate for federal government contractors and subcontractors," the letter said. "As a result, the University of Kansas will pause its employee vaccine mandate process, effective immediately. Employees do not need to take any further action related to this mandate at this time."
KSU echoed that sentiment in a letter from school President Richard B. Myers.
"The judge's action puts a hiatus on the mandate for all states, including Kansas," the letter said of the court decision.
The University of Missouri released a similar statement from President Mun Choi and the chancellors of the university's satellite campuses.
KU and KSU initially announced in late October that all employees of the university would need to be vaccinated by Dec. 8. MU announced its decision to require its staff to be vaccinated by Jan. 4 in November.
"We want to thank all of you who helped KU work toward fulfilling the mandate up to this point. As of today, approximately 83 percent of Lawrence and Edwards campus employees have uploaded documentation confirming they are fully vaccinated," the KU release said. "We believe the actual vaccination rate among our employees to be even higher than that."
Myers thanked KSU staff and students who are already vaccinated and encouraged those who have not done so to get the vaccine.
"I wish to thank everyone in the K-State community who is vaccinated," the KSU letter said. "We encourage people to get vaccinated if they have not done so already. Vaccines are free and widely available. They have been proven safe after millions of inoculations and continue to offer strong protection against COVID-19."
The attorney general of Kansas, Derek Schmidt, also previously wrote a letter to the university asking them to loosen the rules of their mandate following the passage of a new Kansas state law, though that was not mentioned by either university.
MU's letter did note that the vaccine requirement for health systems affiliated with its Columbia and Kansas City branch would remain in place.
"Vaccination requirements implemented in August 2021 for University of Missouri Health System employees and for UMKC faculty, staff and students who have direct patient contact in health care settings, remain in effect," the letter said.
It also made clear that the situation could change again.
"This is a fluid situation. If the federal contractor vaccination mandate comes back into effect, we will update you of changes to the policy," the letter said.
It is unclear if or when KU may put the mandate back in place.
KSU said the "university will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates on the vaccine requirement through K-State Today and the COVID-19 website."