The Robbinsdale School District has reported that of its 1,825 staff, nearly a quarter have not submitted required documentation related to its vaccine mandate. The mandate, which requires either full vaccination (minus a booster) or a commitment to weekly testing, took effect the first of the year.
The mandate also allowed staff to file for an exemption if their religious beliefs prevented them from becoming vaccinated.
District Human Resources Director Amy O’Hern discussed compliance to the mandate with the Robbinsdale School Board at its Jan. 4 meeting. O’Hern said administration was not indicating preference to which avenue they would prefer staff take.
“We don’t care either way if they would like to be vaccinated or to submit to weekly testing, we just want to know which way they are going to be going,” O’Hern said.
So far, she reported that 73% of staff had submitted documentation for full vaccination. Another eight staff were awaiting a second dose of vaccine, 40 staff had agreed to submit to weekly testing, and 446 had not made an indication.
O’Hern said staff who had not yet committed to a pathway in the mandate would next be approached by a fellow administrator within the building or one of the district’s “COVID coordinators.” Discussions with uncommitted staff had begun that week, with an estimated one-week turnaround.
Board member Sharon Brooks Green asked if fully vaccinated staff were still required to test in any circumstance. O’Hern said fully vaccinated staff are required to test if they have symptoms or feel ill.
The mandate was approved by the Robbinsdale School Board last fall. According to the policy, consequences for a noncompliant staff member will grow the longer the mandate is ignored. The policy was developed among a task force of administrators and teacher union representatives.
The policy does not expressly state the consequences for failure to comply with the mandate, as those consequences are likely set forth by the staff member’s collective bargaining unit, if the staff member belongs to one.
The proposal does not require vaccination for students.
Currently, the district requires all students and staff to wear masks, and strongly encourages vaccinations. Because of the mask requirement, classroom quarantines and contact tracing are not being conducted if students and staff are exposed to the virus by a “school close contact.”