IHL prohibits Mississippi colleges from mandating COVID vaccines

The state council that oversees higher education in Mississippi voted today to ban all public colleges and universities from requiring COVID-19 vaccines as a condition of employment or registration. The Mississippi college board of directors made the decision after weeks of confusion in a previous vote in August.

“The board has banned individual universities from implementing a COVID-19 vaccination mandate as a condition of employment or registration, except for clinical settings,” the director of communications said today from IHL, Caron Blanton, Mississippi Free Press.

IHL had considered making COVID-19 vaccines mandatory at a meeting on August 27, 2021, but voted against. At no time during the August special meeting, however, did any member of the board of trustees mention banning individual universities from imposing their own mandates.

“I would like to make a motion, and I would leave it to the staff to provide the exact language and I guess there will be some press release to follow, but I would like us to underline our support for the vaccine and that this is by far our best form of protection for our schools, ”said Chip Morgan, IHL administrator, at the August 27 meeting. “… I think we should say at this point that we don’t think it would be, we would not impose any obligation on universities to make vaccination mandatory.” “

At the time, the board of directors voted 9-2 to approve this motion, with only the two doctors on the board voting for a vaccine term. Later on the senates of the faculties of the University of Mississippi and Mississippi State University voted to call on their directors to implement a vaccination mandate. MSU administrators, the Mississippi Free Press reported on the 13th, told professors they could not implement a vaccination mandate due to the Aug. 27 vote on IHL.

This post noted that MSU faculty Senate leaders rightly pointed out that the August 27 motion did not include a ban on individual colleges and universities from requiring the vaccine themselves.

On Tuesday, September 14, Blanton, the director of communications for IHL, emailed the Mississippi Free Press in response to the MSU’s September 13 article, noting that IHL had already issued a press release. following the vote of August 27 in which he explained “that the Board of Directors voted against the requirement for students and employees to present proof of vaccination as a condition of employment or registration, at the ‘except for students of health-related programs at universities…. “

This reporter asked Blanton to clarify whether or not the IHL’s position was that the August 27 vote against the implementation of a vaccine mandate also amounted to a ban on individual universities and colleges from mandate vaccines themselves. Blanton responded by quoting the minutes from the August 27 meeting.

“A motion has been brought forward by Administrator Morgan that, with the exception of clinical settings within institutions, centers, departments and programs, institutions are required to refrain from forcing COVID vaccination -19 as a condition of registration or employment. It was endorsed by Administrator Hubbard ”, the minutes of the IHL council of August 27 to say. “The motion was passed 9 to 2, with Administrator Ogletree absent and not voting.”

The Mississippi Free Press pointed out a substantial inconsistency between Morgan’s own words when he introduced the motion at the August 27 meeting and the motion recorded in the minutes.

“There seems to be a big difference between saying that you will not impose any requirements on universities to impose vaccination” and what is recorded in the minutes: that “institutions are invited to refrain from imposing the COVID-19 vaccination as a condition of registration or employment, “wrote this reporter in an email to Blanton yesterday afternoon at 2:33 pm.” Can you please help me understand this discrepancy and why does it exist?

IHL policies and regulations 201.0301, the reporter also noted, said: “Minutes should be kept of all meetings of a public body, whether in public or executive session, showing … an accurate record of all final actions taken during the meeting. ‘such a meeting… ”.

Blaton responded today at 4:33 p.m., saying IHL met today to address the issue.

“The board, at its retreat / meeting today, clarified any confusion around the August 27, 2021 vaccine motion by voting to rescind this August 27, 2021 motion and approving the following: to l ‘With the exception of clinical settings within institutions, centers, departments, and programs, institutions are required to refrain from mandating COVID-19 vaccination as a condition of registration or employment, ”Blanton wrote.

She said today’s vote was 8 to 1, with only the trustee, Dr Steven Cunningham, a diagnostic radiologist in Hattiesburg, voting against the ban. Dr Alfred E. McNair, the other physician on the board who voted with Cunningham against the August 27 motion, was absent for today’s vote, as were directors Tom Duff and Jeanne Carter Luckey.

Under IHL, colleges and universities in Mississippi already require proof of vaccination against measles, mumps, rubella, hepatitis B and tuberculosis.

The governor appoints the members of the IHL Administrative Council. Tate Reeves, the current governor, has appointed three members since taking office in January 2020: Cummings, Hubbard and Gregory Rader, executive chairman of the Columbus Recycling Corporation. Former Governor Phil Bryant, who led the state from 2012 until Reeves took office in 2020, has appointed the other six current members of the board.

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