Portland public schools give employees more time to report if they are vaccinated

Portland Public Schools have granted employees an extension of more than six weeks to report their immunization status, officials said this week.

The district announced in mid-August that it had reached an agreement with employee unions to require all employees to present proof of their immunization status by August 31, the day before students report to the hospital. the campus.

But district spokeswoman Karen Werstein said via email Thursday that district officials still did not know the immunization status of 12% of their workers, some 900 and more people. And she said the deadline for all workers to notify human resources of their status has been moved to October 18, the same deadline set by the state for employees in all school districts in Oregon.

Employees who are not fully vaccinated are expected to undergo weekly tests in the meantime, Werstein noted. But she did not answer questions about how many employees have been tested or explain how district officials apply the requirement to employees whose status they do not know.

The district also did not respond to requests for information regarding the frequency of testing for staff who are currently unvaccinated.

The district’s announcement in mid-August gave parents and the public assurance that no unvaccinated employees or contractors would be allowed on school campuses or interact with children unless they were submit to weekly COVID-19 tests.

But when the Oregonian / OregonLive asked him several times this week if district officials could guarantee that this was the case, district officials did not respond. Across the district, 21 employees tested positive and were sent home for isolation. But it is not known if any of these workers exposed a student to the virus.

As is the case with all school districts in Oregon, all Portland public school employees must show full proof of vaccination by October 18 or they will lose their jobs. Only unvaccinated employees who have medical or religious exemption will be guaranteed continued employment.

Karen Werstein, district public information officer, said via email that some of the employees who did not report their status may not be currently working.

“As we work through thousands of pieces of data, we know that some of those who did not respond are not currently working because they are on leave or are coaches who are not coaching this season,” Werstein said.

Of the 88% of employees who have shown the district proof of their immunization status, 95% are fully immunized, human resources director Sharon Reese told the school board.

Of the 5% who said they were unvaccinated, just over 2% are either partially vaccinated or plan to be vaccinated, officials said. Another 2% are currently in the process of asking for religious exemptions. Less than half of 1% requested medical exemptions, they said. Almost 1% failed to complete the verifiable data entry process, according to the district.

Those who cannot prove that they are fully immunized or have obtained exemption approval will no longer be qualified to work with the district, according to school officials.

Students aged 12 and over are not required to be vaccinated to come to campus. Jackson Weinberg, a student representative who spoke at Tuesday’s board meeting, is calling for such a mandate. He urged the district to follow the steps of the Los Angeles Unified School District, which last week announced a mandate to vaccinate students.

“For such a mandate to be successful, it would be important for the district to recognize that students and families may be reluctant to get immunized for a number of reasons. As a district, we have a responsibility to recognize these concerns and let families know that school safety is our priority, ”Weinberg said.

School officials said later in the meeting that the topic of vaccination requirements for students will be discussed at the next school board meeting scheduled for September 28.

Madison Temmel; [email protected]; @MadisonTemmel

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