The Idaho State Board of Education unanimously gave approval to the state's four higher education institutes to enforce the federal vaccine mandate while also signing on to a lawsuit challenging it.
The board will allow the institutions to enforce President Joe Biden's order to protect $89 million in federal research contracts, according to a news release from the ISBOE.
The board also ratified the decision to join a lawsuit out of the State of Georgia challenging the federal order, which mandates COVID-19 vaccinations for federal contractors, including Idaho’s 4-year institutions of higher education, according to the release.
Idaho Ed News reports the order will not mandate the vaccine for all students but instead only for student-employees with a connection to the contracts.
Right now, Idaho's colleges and universities do not require staff and students to be vaccinated. The four-year institutions are following Gov. Brad Little's decision to not allow so-called vaccine passports.
"It's a great federalism debate here," said Kevin Richert of Idaho Education News. "Do the states get to determine, do they decide whether to have a vaccine mandate and as you mentioned, Idaho has decided not to do a vaccine mandate. Do the states get to make that call or do the feds get to make that call? That's really what it comes down to."
The Associated Press reports the board on Tuesday cited unknowns in how long the lawsuit could go on, potentially jeopardizing nearly $90 million in federal research contracts and agreements.
Idaho is now one of 18 states signed on to one of three separate lawsuits challenging the federal mandate, Idaho Ed News reports.