Regents vote to keep vaccine mandate for higher ed faculty and staff

Regents vote to keep vaccine mandate for higher ed faculty and staff
University of Nevada, Reno. Image: Bob Conrad / This Is Reno.

The Nevada System of Higher Education’s board of regents on Thursday voted to keep in place its vaccine mandate for employees.

Five regents called for the meeting to reconsider the mandate. They failed to get the necessary support from the other regents to reconsider what the board already put in place earlier this year.

The vote to end the mandate was split 6 to 6. One regent was absent from the meeting. The board’s legal counsel said the tie means the mandate has to stay in place.

The emergency meeting was called before Christmas, and the agenda was posted online Monday. The announcement about the meeting drew widespread opposition from students, faculty and staff.

Governor Steve Sisolak and each higher education campus president urged the regents to keep the mandate in place. More than 90% of NSHE’s faculty and staff are vaccinated.

More than 3,400 people — mainly comprising faculty, staff, students and alumni — signed a petition supporting the mandate.

Regent Byron Brooks, who pushed for the new vote on the mandate, said that because the Nevada Legislative commission did not support a student vaccine mandate, faculty and staff shouldn’t have to follow different rules.

The board considered extending employee terminations another two weeks, but college presidents said that would be a nightmare.

DeRionne Pollard, president of Nevada State College, said the logistics of an extension would be “highly problematic.”

Unvaccinated NSHE employees will be terminated from their positions unless they apply for an exemption or get vaccinated.

The board also agreed to draft a letter supporting mandatory student vaccinations.