DULUTH -- The University of Minnesota announced on Friday, Oct. 22, that all employees will be required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Dec. 8.

The university will move from requiring employees to attest to their vaccination statues, to requiring them to submit proof of vaccination in order to comply with President Joe Biden's executive order, which asks federal contractors and subcontractors to show proof of employee vaccinations.

University President Joan Gabel made the announcement in a Friday letter to the system community.

"Amidst our successful preventative work, we know many of you would like more enforcement and certainty," Gabel wrote in the letter. "To recognize the call in our community for more certainty and also comply with the order, we must collect proof of vaccination from a broad group of university employees."

Before the new requirement, employees who weren't vaccinated had to agree to comply with regular testing, while students in the system were required to submit their vaccination information or request an exemption by Oct. 8.

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The university didn't originally include employees in the vaccine requirement because unlike students, they weren't already required to provide an immunization record.

Gabel said nearly 99% of employees systemwide have reported they're vaccinated against COVID-19, as have 92% of its students, though students aren't required to show proof of their vaccination like employees soon will be.

"We acknowledge and appreciate that many members of our community have advocated strongly for these increased efforts," Gabel wrote. "For others, these efforts will not align with your expectations. For everyone, please know that the goal is safe campuses that allow us to teach, learn and study together."

Employees will be able to file an exemption for medical or religious reasons. Those with exemptions will face testing requirements.

The executive order applies to the U of M system, which Gabel said receives more than $500 million a year through federal contracts that help support research among other opportunities.