The Madison School Board voted in a special meeting last night to begin drafting a vaccine mandate for all Madison school district staff. The decision comes just a few days before MMSD students begin returning to class this Thursday.
But the rollout of the mandate will take effect weeks after school has been in session – at the earliest. District administrators are set to finish writing their plan by September 20th, with a final vote on the mandate tentatively set for September 27th.
The policy, similar to other vaccine mandates, would call for all employees to show proof of their vaccination status, with those who are not vaccinated being required to take regular COVID tests.
The mandate comes after Democratic state legislators wrote an open letter to the Madison Metropolitan School Board, calling on them to “swiftly enact a policy of mandatory vaccination for all adults in MMSD facilities.”
Last night’s meeting was largely spent discussing what would happen to employees who are unable to get vaccinated for health or religious reasons.
Some board members also took language with the specific wording of the policy. School Board member Ananda Mirilli said the board needed to draw a clear distinction between a “mandate” and a “recommendation.”
“ I have a couple of comments, in regards to the language that we’re using around making something mandatory and making something a recommendation. Right now our teachers are already recommended to have a set of vaccines, and I think in the context that we are, both politically and (that) language does matter, so I would like to offer a thinking around if there is enough energy among my colleagues to potentially review that language and then to make them a recommended for our staffs.” said Mirilli.
Child cases of COVID-19 continue to rise across the state. Preliminary data from the state department of health services indicates that COVID-19 infections amongst those under the age of 18 are at their highest point since January.
Ahead of yesterday’s board meeting, Madison Teacher’s Incorporated — the union representing Madison’s teachers — lent its support to a systemwide employee vaccine mandate. And on Friday, MMSD Superintendent Carlton Jenkins held a press conference calling for a vaccine mandate for all school district employees.
“We’re trying to move our students back into a routine, and I hate to say normal, but normal as much as possible…we are going to have to be nimble, and know how this is going to progress with the Delta-2 Variant. But for the most part, we want to get our students in and get them the best experience possible.” said Superintendent Jenkins.
Madison schools have already announced that, following CDC guidelines, everyone will be required to wear a mask when indoors, including vaccinated individuals. Additionally, schools will be working to physically distance everyone in an attempt to limit the spread of COVID-19.
Image Courtesy: CDC/UnSplash