Former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels now oversees Purdue University as its president. His outlook on protecting students, faculty and staff on campus from COVID-19 in the upcoming 2021-2022 school year is the kind of clear-eyed Hoosier pragmatism for which the state has been known.

Daniels announced Purdue’s pandemic policy for the year ahead in a video message on May 11.

Essentially, it gives students the option of getting vaccinated for COVID-19 and show proof of their inoculations, or continuing the same random coronavirus testing Purdue used in the 2020-2021 school year.

In his message, Daniels said, “The vaccines can no longer be called experimental. They’ve been administered to hundreds of millions of people and they work wondrously. They protect the person vaccinated and they protect others.”

He added, “The higher the percentage of us all who choose vaccination, the more open campus can be and there may be activities we can make available to those vaccinated, but not those who decline.”

Purdue’s plan offered an option and, thus, managed to avoid the more pointed attack that Indiana University’s new vaccination policy drew from Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita and groups of Republicans in the Indiana House and Senate. IU originally said it would require proof of vaccination for students to attend classes or employees to keep their jobs this fall.

Rokita and the GOP legislators insisted IU’s policy was illegal under the new law, which those lawmakers just enacted, banning state or local governments from requiring vaccine passports. IU officials said they had consulted Indiana General Assembly members before crafting its policy, but wound up diluting the university plan after the pushback from the Republican politicians. Instead, IU will require its students and employees to be vaccinated, but they will not have to provide documentation.

IU would be wise to adopt Purdue’s strategy — a rarity, granted, between archrivals — on vaccinations.

IU President Michael McRobbie stood by the university’s core reasoning for requiring vaccinations, with “appropriate exemptions,” as part of the institution’s “comprehensive science and public health-driven approach to managing and mitigating the pandemic on our campuses,” the Associated Press reported.

Such an approach starkly contrasts with the mindset behind the ruling Republicans’ opposition to vaccination requirements. While Purdue and IU administrators are attempting to prevent outbreaks of a virus that has killed 595,000 Americans in 15 months, the partisans continue to use tactics to fit a purely political narrative that relentlessly downplays the threat of COVID-19.

Fortunately, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb did not accede to a demand by House Republicans to block IU’s vaccination policy. “I think this will work its way out, and there’s more than one way to skin a cat,” Holcomb told WTHR in Indianapolis.

Indeed, Purdue and IU have taken different approaches to achieve the same result — getting the tens of thousands of people who live, work or study on their campuses vaccinated, so fewer lives are harmed or lost to COVID-19. Other public colleges and universities in the state should study the strategies used by Indiana’s largest institutions of higher learning to develop their own for the upcoming school year. The safety of those students, faculty and staff should be paramount over political point-scoring.

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