The Philadelphia School Board has voted unanimously to require COVID-19 vaccinations for 20,000 employees of the public school district, which is set to fully reopen for the first time since last March.
The decision, which came during a special session on Tuesday night, will not go into effect immediately. Philadelphia school officials will meet with the district’s five labor unions to determine deadlines, detailed terms, and potential penalties for non-compliance with the mandate.
The mandate is expected to apply to all teachers, staff members, contracted personnel, and service providers in the district. Tuesday’s resolution also makes clear that there will be an option for exemptions for “certain documented medical circumstances” or “sincerely held religious beliefs.”
The resolution received a mixed response during the public comment session, with some speakers speaking against the policy and others in favor.
“COVID is temporary, civil rights are not,” said Christine Heying, who teaches at Philadelphia High School for Girls. She said her health condition prevents her from getting vaccinated, and she was afraid of being bullied by those who have “growing resentment towards the unvaccinated.”
Nicole Hunt, president of a 2,200-member union of school cafeteria workers and noon-time aides, also spoke against the vaccine mandate. She said many of the union’s members are low-income, part-time workers, and that the mandate might cause them to quit their jobs. – READ MORE