Nevada regents vote to support college vaccine mandate

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — The Nevada Board of Trustees voted 9-4 on Friday to order Chancellor Melody Rose to send a letter to state lawmakers, health officials and Gov. Steve Sisolak to support the imposition of a vaccination mandate on students enrolled at public colleges and universities in Nevada.

The letter, while not binding, signals that battles over coronavirus measures will likely continue for the more than 100,000 students at public colleges and universities across the state. It is asking lawmakers and officials to reconsider a mandate on students to ensure education on its campuses is not interrupted.

“As the COVID-19 virus produces new and unknown variants and a significant percentage of our student population remains unvaccinated against the virus, the Board of Regents finds itself at a critical inflection point in our response. COVID-19 The Board of Regents must address the realities of the ever-changing COVID-19 environment and its impacts on the health and safety of people on our campuses,” Chancellor Melody Rose wrote in the letter.

The presidents of the University of Nevada, Reno and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Brian Sandoval and Keith Whitfield, spoke in favor of the letter and told the regents that more than 90% of students at their campuses had been vaccinated.

After delays and questions about which government agency would be responsible for a term, state universities began the fall semester with no effect, allowing students to enroll regardless of their immunization status. The health board then passed a 120-day emergency measure requiring students to be vaccinated by the end of August and the regents voted in October to make vaccinations mandatory for all college and university staff by December 1.

A student subsequently sued the Nevada higher education system, challenging the constitutionality of the student mandate. And a legislative committee that meets when Nevada lawmakers are not in session voted last month not to extend the 120-day emergency measure mandating vaccines for college students.

The requirements remain in effect for staff, but not for students at Nevada’s public colleges and universities.

Despite discussing a system-wide employee mandate in several meetings, the Regents had not until Friday not publicly discussed a student mandate, with their lawyers arguing that the responsibility lies with the state board of health. Regent Jason Geddes said he would like staff to look at his earlier opinion and see if he could pass a mandate without the approval of lawmakers or health officials.


AP reporter Scott Sonner in Reno, Nevada, contributed to this report.


Metz is a member of the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative body. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places reporters in local newsrooms to report on underreported issues.

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