North Dakota universities halt vaccine mandate but what about U of M?

The University of North Dakota wasted no time in responding to a Georgia federal judge’s Dec. 7 ruling blocking President Biden’s vaccination mandate for federal contractors at the school. Within 24 hours of the decision, UND notified employees working on the $100 million in federal contracts on campus they’re no longer required to be vaccinated or obtain an exemption in order to retain their jobs. Until the ruling, federal contractors faced a looming Jan. 18 deadline, the Grand Forks Herald reports.

“Because of the injunction, UND will not implement a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for employees until the court has reviewed the case, which may take several months,” wrote President Andrew Armacost, in a message to UND employees on Dec. 8. “We will continue to sign and work on federal contracts, and will only implement the mandate if it is deemed lawful.”

Officials responded just as expeditiously over at North Dakota State University, a recipient of some $33 million in federal contracts. While the mandate originally covered only federal contractors, NDSU previously extended it to include all 6,000 university employees, according to the Forum.

The mandate is unenforceable, North Dakota University System attorney Eric Olson said Wednesday during an update at the State Board of Higher Education meeting.

“Based on this injunction, NDSU is immediately putting its employee vaccine mandate on hold pending further legal instruction,” Bresciani said in a Monday update to the campus. “We will continue to keep the campus informed as this fluid legal situation evolves.”

Both North Dakota schools immediately posted their updated policies on their websites.

A nationwide injunction has suspended the contractor vaccine mandate. Based on this injunction, NDSU is immediately putting its employee vaccine mandate on hold pending further legal instruction.
We will continue to keep the campus informed as this fluid legal situation evolves.
You do not need to submit vaccine verification or exemption requests during this time period.

Yet nearly a week after the federal court’s ruling, the University of Minnesota’s response to the mandate’s suspension remains unclear. The U of M had cited $500 million in federal contracts as justification for requiring all U of M employees to show proof of vaccination by Dec. 3. By some estimates, however, as many as one-third of faculty members remain unvaccinated.

In addition, the university announced an extension of the vaccination mandate shortly before the court-ordered suspension, according to the Minnesota Daily.

The University of Minnesota is instituting a new employee COVID-19 vaccine requirement for the spring 2022 semester in response to U.S. President Joe Biden’s recent executive order and a COVID-19 safety resolution from faculty.

If faculty across the system do not comply with the vaccine requirement by the start of spring semester, they will likely be suspended without pay. Previously, faculty were required to attest to their vaccination status, causing pushback from many faculty who supported a firmer mandate.

In fact, from all appearances on the university’s website, Biden’s vaccine mandate remains in effect. The most recent online update came back on Nov. 23 from Kenneth Horstman, V. P. for Human Resources, reminding employees that “the university is taking important steps to comply with a federal executive order to protect vital federal funds.”

“…We appreciate your important role in maintaining the safety of our University workplaces and the efforts you have made to meet federal requirements in support of our mission,” Horstman concluded.