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St. Edward's reverses vaccine requirement for students and staff

St. Edward's has reversed course, saying the university's policy will not deny services to those submitting documentation or a qualifying exemption.

AUSTIN, Texas — Back in March, St. Edward's University mandated that students and employees get a COVID-19 vaccine for the fall semester if they need to return in person. Now, in compliance with Gov. Greg Abbott's order banning vaccine passports, the small Austin university is changing course.

The policy announced on Monday, March 29, provided exemptions related to religious beliefs, underlying medical conditions and concerns associated with Emergency Use Authorization. This policy applied to those who wished to attend school in person during the fall semester.

On Tuesday, Gov. Abbott announced an executive order that says Texas government agencies, among other entities, will not be allowed to require vaccine passports. The governor's order limits state agencies and state-funded groups from requiring people to prove their vaccination status in order to receive services. 

St. Edward's receives public money. Private companies can require vaccine passports in Texas – but only if they don't receive money from the State, like grants, contracts or loans. 

Now, St. Edward's has reversed course, saying the university's policy will not deny services to those submitting documentation or a qualifying exemption. But the school is still urging students and staff to get vaccinated.

"In accordance with CDC guidelines, regional health authority guidelines, and external medical advisors, vaccination and exemption status is instrumental in supporting testing protocols, contact tracing, and quarantine/isolation management protocols," the school said on its website.

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