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University of Missouri Board of Curators approves coronavirus vaccine requirement for federal contracts

Watch the University of Missouri Board of Curators' discussion below.

COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ.)

The University of Missouri Board of Curators approved a resolution Thursday to require federal contractors on campus and faculty and students working with federal contracts to be vaccinated against coronavirus, following an executive order by President Joe Biden.

The resolution requires the UM System and its four campuses to follow the executive order, which requires federal contract workers to be vaccinated against the coronavirus or be tested regularly. The board voted 7-1, with Curator Todd Graves abstaining. Jeffrey Layman, of Springfield, voted against the measure.

The resolution includes exemptions for religious beliefs, medical reasons and for those who don't work in proximity to federal contractors. But those UM employees who do work with federal contracts or federal contract workers will have to be immunized.

A spokesperson for M-U Christian Basi said the university is currently working on a website where people can go and fill out an exemption.

"So our HR team is doing a phenomenal job right now building a system where the individuals will be able to request an exemption very easily and get a response very quickly as to whether or not they qualify", Basi said.

The University plans to have the site up and running very soon and Basi feels the process should go very smoothly as it did for M-U health.

"Out of the 7,000 different employees we only had four employees that refused to request an exemption and did not get a vaccine, " Basi says.

The resolution also acknowledges that Missouri and other states have filed a legal challenge against the rule, and that the requirement could change.

Basi said there are legal challenges out there but he can't speculate on what would happen related to those challenges.

During the meeting, curators expressed some concerns about the resolution, including how to determine which UM employees work in proximity to federal contract workers.

Biden issued the executive order in September requiring federal contract workers to be vaccinated against the coronavirus or undergo regular testing starting Dec. 8.

The administration pushed that deadline back to Jan. 4 earlier this month.

The university has multiple federal contractors working on campus. UM System President Mun Choi told the curators that the system receives hundreds of millions of dollars in federal contracts which include health care, national security and defense research and the production of isotopes used in medicine.

Kathleen Trauth an associate professor on the M-U faculty council is happy the board approved the resolution.

In an email, Trauth said, "I’m very appreciative of President Choi for bringing the COVID-19 vaccine mandate resolution to the Board of Curators and I’m very grateful that the Board of Curators has voted in favor of the resolution. This action will protect federal funding for the University, the loss of which would have been catastrophic for our mission".

Gov. Mike Parson also issued an executive order that allows federal contractors some exemptions, which inspired the exemptions carved out in the resolution.

The board in September passed a resolution opposing any system-wide vaccine mandates that apply to all students, staff and faculty.

Coronavirus case rates have fallen on the system's Columbia campus compared to last fall. The campus reported 17 active student cases as of Wednesday.

Kennedy Miller

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Matthew Sanders

Matthew Sanders is the digital content director at ABC 17 News.

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