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After court ruling, UND employees won't be required to get coronavirus vaccinations

The nationwide injunction was handed down on Dec. 7 by R. Stan Baker, a federal district court judge in Georgia. The ruling forbids, at least temporarily, requiring federal contractors to receive the vaccinations. President Joe Biden issued the mandate via executive order on Sept. 9, and subsequent guidance from a federal coronavirus task force required people working on federal contracts receive the vaccines by Jan. 18.

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Students gather around the Eternal Flame on the University of North Dakota campus in Grand Forks. (Forum News Service file photo)
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UND won’t require some employees to receive vaccinations against the coronavirus, after a federal judge issued an injunction against the mandate for federal contractors.

The nationwide injunction was handed down on Dec. 7 by R. Stan Baker, a federal district court judge in Georgia. The ruling forbids, at least temporarily, requiring federal contractors to receive the vaccinations. President Joe Biden issued the mandate via executive order on Sept. 9, and subsequent guidance from a federal coronavirus task force required people working on federal contracts receive the vaccines by Jan. 18.

UND has more than $100 million in federal contracts, found largely in the John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences, the colleges of arts and sciences and engineering and mines, and the Energy and Environmental Research Center.

In his ruling, Baker found the contractor mandate violated the federal Procurement Act.

The injunction doesn’t mean the mandate disappears forever as the court needs to issue a final opinion on the case, which is expected to take some time.

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“Because of the injunction, UND will not implement a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for employees until the court has reviewed the case, which may take several months,” wrote President Andrew Armacost, in a message to UND employees on Dec. 8. “We will continue to sign and work on federal contracts, and will only implement the mandate if it is deemed lawful.”

Prior to the injunction, UND had been preparing to notify some employees who work on federal contracts about the vaccination requirement, but that is no longer necessary unless the injunction is overturned.

Armacost said vaccines are the best defense against the coronavirus and its variants, and urged UND employees to get the vaccine and booster shots.

According to a release from North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, the mandate would have applied to any employee who works on federal contracts, even if the work they did was unrelated to the contract. Stenehjem represented the state in a multi-state lawsuit against the contractor mandate, which was being heard in the Eastern District Court in Missouri.

Stenehjem noted that other federal coronavirus vaccine mandates have also been enjoined by the courts. Along with the contractor mandate, those include requirements for the health care workers and some private employers.

“The Biden administration has yet again exceeded its authority in apparent disregard of the Constitution and the rule of law,” Stenehjem said.

Related Topics: EDUCATION
Adam Kurtz is the community editor for the Grand Forks Herald. He covers higher education and other topics in Grand Forks County and the city.

Kurtz joined the Herald in July 2019. He covered business and county government topics before covering higher education and some military topics.

Tips and story ideas are welcome. Get in touch with him at akurtz@gfherald.com, or DM at @ByAdamKurtz.

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