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University of Missouri System to require staff to be vaccinated

Posted at 3:18 PM, Nov 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-18 16:38:16-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The University of Missouri System Board of Curators passed a resolution during their meeting Thursday that requires university faculty, staff and student employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

This mandate will apply to all UM System universities - University of Missouri - St. Louis, Missouri S&T, University of Missouri - Columbia and University of Missouri - Kansas City.

The resolution cites Pres. Biden's executive order that requires federal contractors to be vaccinated. The UM System is considered a federal contractor.

"The University of Missouri System universities hold many federal contracts that fund hundreds of millions of dollars of research and other activities that are critical to our academic mission and service to Missourians," the resolution said.

"Covered employees" under the federal mandate include individuals who work directly on government contracts, individuals who work "in connection" with a government contract and individuals who work with the others in the previous groups.

“We understand the significant financial challenges that would be created if we do not comply with this federal mandate,” Darryl Chatman, chair of the Board of Curators, said in an UM System press release. “The board has encouraged our campus communities to get vaccinated pursuant to the federal vaccine mandate, and we will continue to do everything we can to keep our communities safe while also respecting individual freedoms.” 

The resolution also cites Missouri Gov. Mike Parson's executive order issued in late October, which requires all entities within Missouri's executive branch to "cooperate fully" with the Missouri attorney general's lawsuit against the federal vaccine mandates.

The resolution said that the UM System will comply with both the federal mandate and Gov. Parson's executive order. It said employees will not be compelled to comply or be penalized for not complying with the federal mandate if they meet one of three exemption criteria.

The criteria for exemption from the vaccine mandate are university employees who demonstrate a sincerely held religious belief, a medical reason or can show that they don't interact with "covered employees."

“The university will be responsive to individuals who have exemption requests,” Mun Choi, president of the UM System, said in a release. “As Governor Parson’s order has stated, we will not require any individual to receive the vaccine if they have a sincerely held religious belief or verified medical reason. We are developing a structure that will allow us to evaluate exemptions as quickly as possible to process those requests.”  

Staff will have to complete the vaccination process by Jan. 4, 2022. More information and details of plans will be provided to employees in the coming weeks.

"The University will not require employees to comply with the Federal Mandate in the event that withdrawal, modification, injunction, or invalidation of the Federal Mandate makes it inapplicable to them in whole or in part," the resolution said.

This mandate comes almost a month after the University of Kansas, Kansas State University and Wichita State University said they will require all employees to be vaccinated.