I know many of you are aware of President Biden’s recent executive order regarding COVID practices and protocols relating to vaccines, masking and social distancing for federal contractors, and have had questions as to if – and how – this order might apply to WSU. After a thorough internal review of the order and its implementing guidance – and in consultation with state and federal partners, our fellow Kansas research institutions, and the president of the Kansas Board of Regents – we have determined that the order applies to the entire WSU workforce.
What does this mean for you?
In accordance with the executive order, there are several COVID safety protocol requirements that will impact our community: vaccines, masks and physical distancing. All employees (including part-time, full-time and student employees) will be required to be fully vaccinated by December 8, 2021, unless eligible for a medical or religious exemption. The mandatory vaccination obligations apply even to those covered employees who are working remotely (as long as they are working on or in connection with a covered contract). Given the short timeframe for implementation and the length of vaccination protocols (in some cases, taking up to six weeks), unvaccinated employees should seek their first vaccine dose immediately. Get more information on vaccination schedules. Compliance with the vaccine requirement is a condition of employment. Employees who are not fully vaccinated or do not receive approval for a medical or religious exemption will be prohibited from engaging in work after December 8, 2021. Further failure to comply will be addressed consistent with university policies and procedures, which may include corrective action up to and including separation.
Additionally, absent an exemption, all individuals on campus – employees, students and visitors – regardless of vaccination status, will be required to wear masks and physically distance (to the extent required in the order). This includes indoor and outdoor spaces, classrooms, labs and social events. This masking and physical distancing requirement is effective Monday, October 25, 2021.
What are the next steps in complying with this order?
We are asking all employees to please not submit your vaccination card (or other proof of your vaccination status) to your supervisor or Human Resources at this time. Employees will be able to upload proof of their vaccination status through a secure online portal shortly; more details are coming on how to do that. Also, please do not submit requests for vaccine exemptions to your supervisor or HR at this time. More information will be forthcoming regarding the exemption request process.
We have put together the FAQ below to help answer some of your immediate questions. More information will be distributed as it becomes available.
As I have said before, vaccines remain the most effective way for us to combat this virus. Our top priority has been and remains the health, safety and well-being of our entire campus community. I call upon each of you – as a critical and valuable part of our Shocker family – to do your part in this fight not only for yourself, but also for your family, your friends, your neighbors and your colleagues. Vaccination of our campus not only ensures compliance with our federal obligations, thereby continuing to secure millions of dollars in federal funding that support and fund research, employment and educational efforts, it also gives us the best chance at keeping our classrooms and campus open.
As a reminder, all WSU students, faculty and staff can receive the vaccine, free of charge, through Student Health Services. Additionally, in partnership with the Sedgwick County Health Department, WSU is hosting two weekly public walk-in vaccination clinics.See the vaccination schedule.
If you have additional questions, email HR.ServiceCenter@wichita.edu.
Thank you for all you have done and continue to do for our university!
Rick Muma, President