AUSTIN (KXAN) — Last month, St. Edward’s University issued a new requirement for students and staff: proof of COVID-19 vaccination in order to return to campus in the fall.
But the university is changing course following an executive order by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott. Under the order, government agencies or organizations that receive public funds are banned from requiring proof of vaccination for entry or services.
On Tuesday, St. Edward’s issued a new exemption for students and staff, indicating they can simply decline to provide proof of vaccination to the institution if they wish. Previously, exemptions related to religious beliefs, underlying medical conditions, and concerns about the Emergency Use Authorization were allowed.
While St. Edward’s is a private institution, it does receive state funding for financial aid.
“In compliance with the Governor of Texas’ Executive Order GA-35, issued April 5, 2021, the university’s policy will not deny services to those submitting documentation for a qualifying exemption,” a statement from the university reads.
Abbott announced the ban on government-mandated “vaccine passports” early Tuesday and St. Edward’s shared its update later that afternoon.
“Government should not require any Texan to show proof of vaccination and reveal private health information just to go about their daily lives,” he said in a video posted online. “We will continue to vaccinate more Texans and protect public health — and we will do so without treading on Texans’ personal freedoms.”
Private businesses that don’t receive public funds can still require customers to provide proof of vaccination, though it appears the ban will have little impact in Austin. City of Austin staff are not required to get vaccinated and a spokesperson for the city said there are no plans to introduce a vaccine passport.