Higher-ed regents schedule emergency meeting to reconsider employee vaccine requirement

Higher-ed regents schedule emergency meeting to reconsider employee vaccine requirement
FILE - In this July 10, 2020, file photo, healthcare workers test patients in their cars at a drive-thru coronavirus testing site run by the University of Nevada Las Vegas School of Medicine and the Nevada National Guard in Las Vegas. Nevada health officials are now counting results from rapid antigen tests in the coronavirus data that they present to the public, rather than only the traditional molecular tests processed in laboratories. The state updated its health response dashboard on Monday, Oct. 4, 2021, adding more than 600,000 tests to its count. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)

The Nevada System of Higher Education’s board of regents last week scheduled a meeting to reconsider mandatory vaccine mandates for its employees.

The board in September voted to approve mandatory vaccines for all employees. The Nevada legislative commission on Dec. 21 failed to make permanent the student vaccine mandate, so some board members want to reconsider whether NSHE faculty and staff should still be required to be vaccinated.

The meeting, scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 30, 2021, comes a day before employees will be fired if they haven’t received a COVID-19 vaccine. The board will consider maintaining the mandate as is, extending the vaccine deadline or removing the requirement altogether.

“The Nevada Faculty Alliance is on record in support of both student and employee vaccination requirements for in-person instruction and work assignments, with allowance for medical and religious exemptions,” said Kent Ervin with the Nevada Faculty Alliance. “The Governor’s office has indicated they are proceeding with the promulgation of permanent regulations for students through the Board of Health. The Board of Regents should do everything they can within their constitutional authority to maintain the vaccination requirements for NSHE while that happens.”

At least five regents of the 13-member board want the meeting and the vote.

NSHE Chancellor Melody Rose. NSHE image.
NSHE Chancellor Melody Rose. NSHE image.

“The Board has previously articulated that such a mandate is also necessary to reduce the possibility of reintroduced classroom capacity restrictions, lockdowns, and increased remote instruction, which negatively impact all NSHE strategic goals,” the agenda notes.

However, “some members of the Board have previously expressed the need for consistency in messaging that employees should be required to be vaccinated if students would be required as a matter of law to be vaccinated by outside jurisdictions such as the Nevada Board of Health.”

Since students are no longer required to be vaccinated against COVID-19, and employee terminations are expected to start Dec. 31, some regents “wish to consider the strategic impacts of mandatory employee vaccinations.”

More than 97% of NSHE employees were vaccinated by Dec. 21 and more than 600 employees remain unvaccinated, according to NSHE data

“Receiving the COVID-19 vaccination is the scientifically proven most effective way to protect the health and safety of the NSHE community and end the pandemic,” NSHE Chancellor Melody Rose said early this month.

The board will also consider writing a statement of support for student vaccines since they are no longer required.

UPDATE: This story was updated to include more recent vaccination data from NSHE.