Vaccine still voluntary for FHSU employees

BY CORIE LYNN

Whether an individual has chosen to take it or not, the COVID-19 vaccine has been available for months.

FHSU has encouraged its community to receive the vaccine, even making available to students a $400 incentive. As with the other Kansas Board of Regent Institutions, the vaccine has remained optional.

In early September, President Joe Biden issued an executive order requiring all federal employees to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

The goal of the mandate issued in the executive order is to address problems like worker absences. It also states that employees “adequately protected from COVID-19 will bolster economy and efficiency in Federal procurement.”

Because of the nature of their contracts with the federal government for research, KBOR institutions University of Kansas, Kansas State University and Wichita State University are now requiring their employees to receive the vaccine.

According to FHSU Chief Communications Officer Scott Cason, Fort Hays employees are still exempt from the mandate.

“In the case of the three research universities […], they are in the process of implementing a vaccine mandate due in part to the language in federal contracts that require compliance with the vaccine mandate,” he said.

Cason explained that FHSU is not working under the same language as KU, KSU and WSU. This and Fort Hays’ previous success with mitigating the spread of the coronavirus led to the decision to not institute a mandate.

“We continue to monitor the status of the pandemic in our community and more globally, and we are in a position to pivot as necessary,” he said.

However, this does not mean that a mandate won’t come in the future.

Cason states that the University will evaluate the situation on a case-by-case basis as they form future contracts.

“It is still early in the implementation process of the executive order,” he said, “and we may yet secure one or more federal contracts that include the vaccine mandate language in the future.”

The University continues to update its COVID-19 portal weekly with data on testing, quarantine and isolation numbers. Going forward, the FHSU community can continue to visit the page for further updates on the University’s response to the virus.

“This is the best place for news and information about our work to keep our campus safe open this academic year,” Cason said. 

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