Last night, the Madison School Board met to unanimously approve a vaccine mandate for all MMSD staff members.
All staff members must be fully vaccinated by November 1st.
The mandate’s approval comes a full month into the school year. The plan won’t be implemented until about halfway through the semester. That leaves months of in person learning, during which students could be exposed to unvaccinated staff members.
MMSD spokesperson Tim LeMonds says that the surging Delta coronavirus variant motivated the timing of the board’s decision. COVID cases began spiking across the state towards the end of the summer, after new cases had been on the decline for months.
“Well because the Delta Variant and COVID-19 doesn’t follow our school schedule. We had a spike of Delta Variants here locally and across the country, and school districts have been monitoring that,” said LeMonds
So far, there have been 162 positive cases of COVID-19 among MMSD staff and students this school year.
The mandate does allow for some medical or religious exemptions. The paperwork for those exemptions will also be due by November 1st.
Those who do get an approved exemption will have to take twice weekly COVID tests.
Staff members who do not get vaccinated, or turn in exemption paperwork, will be placed on administrative leave without pay.
Staff that are unvaccinated or unexempted by December 20th will be terminated.
MMSD will be holding a vaccination clinic for all unvaccinated employees on October 1st, to provide the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine, and another clinic on October 22nd to provide the second dose.
The mandate is seen as phase one by MMSD, with a second phase to the plan to vaccinate other groups in the future. LeMonds says that this will include visitors and volunteers to the school.
“That next phase, which has already begun, is planning around how to work with visitors who are coming into our school buildings, volunteers, partners like that,” said LeMonds
MMSD staff who are still hesitant about the COVID vaccine are encouraged to join a Q and A session, being held both today and tomorrow, to ask any questions they might have about the vaccine to health experts.
Image courtesy: CDC/UNSPLASH