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Cincinnati school board to consider COVID vaccine mandate for staff

Posted at 11:12 AM, Aug 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-26 21:13:04-04

CINCINNATI — The Cincinnati Public Schools Board of Education will consider making a COVID-19 vaccine mandatory among district staff.

Thursday, the board's Policy and Equity Committee Thursday recommended the policy change. It would require all district employees to receive one of the three available COVID-19 vaccines. Staff would have the option to apply for an exemption from the policy. It would go into effect during the 2021-2022 school year. However, the board did not specify which day staff would need to show proof of vaccination.

The policy says the requirement would be in accordance with the district's duty to provide a workplace free of known hazards.

According to Ohio law, school districts cannot require vaccines that are not FDA-approved.
The committee says since the U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted full approval status to Pfizer's two-shot COVID-19 vaccine for people 16 years and older, it is time to revisit the district's policy.

Board member Eve Bolton said the decision could risk losing district staff, but she said that is worth the risk.

"People will quit, and we will lose staff, and I am willing to do that," Bolton said during Thursday's committee meeting.

The full board of education will consider the policy at its next regularly scheduled meeting on Sept. 13.

The president of the teachers union, Cincinnati Federation of Teachers, Julie Sellers told WCPO 9News, "The teachers, CFT, must be involved with the negotiations of what this is going to look like because this is a term of working conditions. "I'm not saying that we’re against it, but what I am saying is however it rolls out it must be negotiated."

The policy proposal does allow for exemptions based on religious or medical reasons.

The school board committee estimates at least 70 percent of staff are vaccinated. Members argued Thursday that testing more than 6,000 employees and mask enforcement is not realistic.

Since May 2020, CPS says nearly 2,000 students and staff have tested positive for COVID-19.
To see the latest numbers, click here.