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UM Updates COVID-19 Vaccine Mandates After Federal Clarification

University of Mississippi employees who are not fully vaccinated by Dec. 8, will be allowed to continue working and will not immediately be placed on a leave of absence.

According to a message sent out by Chancellor Glenn Boyce Tuesday, federal officials issued clarification guidance that now permits the university to allow unvaccinated employees to continue to work after the Dec. 8 deadline “through a limited period of counseling and education.”

Under the new guidance, employees do not need to be removed from the workplace unless these efforts result in “continued noncompliance.”

Last week, the university notified all employees that the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning voted to follow the federal Executive Order that requires COVD-19 vaccinations by Dec. 8 for all employees working on federal contracts and employees working in federal contract workplaces.

“Based upon the guidance available at that time, the university indicated that employees who had not provided proof that they were fully vaccinated or received a medical or religious accommodation by Dec. 8 would be placed on unpaid leave until they provided proof of vaccination,” Boyce said Tuesday. “In addition, the message indicated that employees with pending accommodation requests would be placed on paid leave while the accommodation request was evaluated.”

Unvaccinated employees and those employees who have not submitted proof of vaccination will be permitted to continue to work and remain on the payroll until Jan. 3, 2022, while the university continues to counsel and educate these employees on the need to get vaccinated.

Employees who are not fully vaccinated by Jan. 3 (and who have not demonstrated a good faith effort to become fully vaccinated by having received at least one dose of the vaccine of their choice) or who have not received an accommodation may be separated from employment.

Employees who have a pending accommodation request as of Jan. 3 will be allowed to continue working until a review of their request is completed. If an accommodation request is denied, the employee will be given a reasonable period of time to act promptly and become fully vaccinated.

“We will continue to monitor further updates or clarification of the federal guidance, and we will continue to modify our plans to comply with the Executive Order based on new information,” Boyce stated in his message.

Staff report

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