LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico State University is dropping a previously offered alternative of weekly testing for COVID-19 and announced it will require all of its over 7,500 employees to be fully vaccinated by Dec. 8.

The policy change is being made to comply with federal requirements for federal contractors and includes student employees, the university said in a statement Wednesday.

“The NMSU system maintains millions of dollars in federal contracts that support research and development in a broad range of disciplines,” NMSU Chancellor Dan Arvizu said in the statement. “We are among hundreds of universities across the country who are considered to be federal contractors.”

The university said employees may apply for a medical or religious exemption to the vaccine requirement.

The requirement applies to undergraduate and graduate student employees, contract and temporary employees and employees working remotely, including in other states, the university said.

Students who are not university employees still have the option to not get vaccinated and instead test weekly for COVID-19, the university said.

The university said it has 7,561 employees, including faculty members, staff and student workers, and that more than 85% have already submitted proof of vaccination.

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