The Emporia nursing program will not grant COVID-19 vaccine exemptions, parties in court Tuesday
The Emporia nursing program will not grant COVID-19 vaccine exemptions, parties in court Tuesday

The Emporia nursing program will not grant COVID-19 vaccine exemptions, parties in court Tuesday

EMPORIA (KSNT) – “We do not have exemptions at tech college,” Kim McNeese, director of nursing at Flint Hills Technical College (FHTC), said Tuesday in an Emporia courtroom. McNeese testified in a lawsuit filed against Flint Hills Technical College by nursing student Molly Ellis, who wants an exemption from the COVID-19 vaccine mandate under the Kansas Preservation of Religious Freedom Act.

According to court documents, Molly Ellis filed the lawsuit under the Kansas Preservation of Religious Freedom Act on February 2nd. The card states that Ellis continues to follow her religious beliefs and refuses to be injected with vaccines created from “the use of aborted baby fetal tissue.”

According to the University of Nebraska Medical CenterThe COVID-19 vaccine does not contain aborted fetal cells.

McNeese testified that the FHTC provides each nursing student with a handbook that is reviewed “comprehensively.”

Ellis’ Johnson County attorney, Linus Baker, argued that when the nursing student signed the handbook, the COVID-19 vaccine was not a requirement. Ellis began the nursing program in August 2021 and planned to graduate in May 2022 after completing her clinical trials. But on January 1, 2022, Flint Hills amended its student handbook to require COVID-19 vaccinations for nursing students performing clinical trials.

“Without compliance, we do not have a clinical partner,” McNeese told the court.

Presbyterian Manor and Newman Regional Health have entered into a contract with FHTC for clinical training. McNeese told the court that a religious exemption would be up to Newman Hospital or Presbyterian Manor, not FHTC.

FHTC has four clinical partners, all of whom require a COVID-19 vaccination to perform clinical trials.

Ellis has asked if she could do simulation instead of clinical trials, McNeese told the court that part of the clinical should be performed with one of the clinical partners.

When asked by FHTC attorneys if adjustments could be made to find another clinical partner, McNeese testified that it could “take weeks to months” to find another facility that was not subject to vaccination requirements.

Judge W. Lee Fowler, who is hearing the case, said time was of the essence for this case. He ordered Ellis to give “incomplete” in her clinical trial instead of “F’s” so she can try to find a solution and stay in the nursing program until further notice. He further noted that he does not want Ellis to change his religious beliefs and wants to try to find accommodation.

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