EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – With a federal mandate for COVID-19 vaccines in place, officials with New Mexico State University (NMSU) announced that all employees systemwide must become fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by December 8.
The policy change, announced late Wednesday, removes the alternative of weekly COVID-19 testing announced in August for employees, including student employees.
“The NMSU system maintains millions of dollars in federal contracts that support research and development in a broad range of disciplines…We are among hundreds of universities across the country who are considered to be federal contractors. After consulting with federal and state agencies, as well as our legal counsel, we’ve determined that this vaccine requirement applies to every employee in our system.”NMSU Chancellor Dan Arvizu
NMSU officials say that the announcement comes in response to Executive Order 14042 on Ensuring Adequate COVID Safety Protocols for Federal Contractors, signed by President Joe Biden on Sept. 9, which was followed by additional guidance released Sept. 24 by the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force, outlining how the safety protocols apply to federal contractors.
The new mandate includes undergraduate and graduate student employees, contract and temporary employees, and employees working remotely, including in other states.
NMSU officials add that students who are not employees of the university continue to have the option to test weekly for COVID-19 if they choose not to become vaccinated.
Employees may apply for a medical or religious exemption to the vaccine requirement by contacting the NMSU Office of Institutional Equity.
The NMSU system has roughly 7,561 employees, including 1,786 faculty members, 2,740 staff and 3,035 student employees.
According to officials, more than 85 percent have already submitted proof of vaccination to the university’s VaxTrax system. The remaining 15 percent have a limited time to begin their vaccine series in order to become fully vaccinated by the Dec. 8 deadline. Individuals are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after their final dose.