A newly proposed Prince William County School Board resolution would require all PWCS employees either be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, or to submit to weekly testing. The same goes for any third party contractor who interacts with students, such as a PIOs.
The resolution, proposed by Chairman Babar Lateef is called "The Resolution of Prince William County School Board Ensuring Safe Learning and Safe Workplace." One of its goals is to ensure the health and safety of students.
The resolution is on the agenda for the Sept. 15 meeting at the Kelly Leadership Center.
Not all students are vaccinated and those under the age of 12 cannot yet receive a vaccination. Requiring vaccinations or testing of teachers and other employees, would help to keep safe students who are in their care, said Lateef in the resolution. The Chairman expects it would also help deter the spread of COVID-19, which has soared in Virginia due to the Delta variant. Keeping more of the Covid virus out of schools would lead to fewer interruptions of the students' education.
The requirement is futher in keeping with that required of Virginia State Employees and Federal employees. Gov. Ralph Northam recently urged more large employers to require the same of their employees.
Prince William County Schools has made COVID-19 vaccinations available to its employees beginning in January. "Approximately 80% of PWCS employees have been vaccinated against the virus," according to the resolution.
The resolution is certain to be controversial. There is a large segment of the population that either refused to be vaccinated or remain hesitant. The Pfizer vaccine has received full FDA approval for adults, while the others are approved for "emergency use."
All students are teachers are required to wear masks while at school, inside the building and are around students or nonvaccinated individuals.
Some parents have complained of the mask mandate, which is set by the state. However, others believe the school division is not going far enough to protect health of the students this year.
RESOLUTION OF THE PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD ENSURING SAFE LEARNING AND A SAFE WORKPLACE
WHEREAS, since March of 2020 the education of Prince William County Public School students has been severely disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic and resultant closure of schools;
and WHEREAS, although PWCS has implemented policies during the course of the pandemic to protect the health and safety of students and staff, including remote learning, telework, masking, and social distancing measures which have proven effective, vaccination offers the highest level of protection against the virus;
and WHEREAS, the School Board has a duty to protect the health and safety of the students entrusted to its care, including tens of thousands of elementary and middle school students who are not yet eligible for vaccination and who are particularly vulnerable to the virus;
and WHEREAS, PWCS has cooperated with the Prince William County Health Department to make vaccinations widely available and accessible for PWCS employees, and approximately 80% of PWCS employees have been vaccinated against the virus;
and WHEREAS, the urgency to expand vaccinations is increasing as the highly contagious Delta variant spreads, and case numbers and hospitalizations throughout Virginia and in Prince William County increase;
and WHEREAS, on August 5, 2021, in order to protect the safety of Virginia’s workforce and the people they serve, the Governor of Virginia issued Executive Directive Number Eighteen (2021), Ensuring a Safe Workplace, which requires all state employees and contractors who enter the workplace or have public-facing duties to disclose their vaccination status, and if refusing to do so or not vaccinated, to undergo weekly COVID-19 testing and disclose the same to agency personnel;
and WHEREAS, Executive Directive Number Eighteen encourages other employers to require their employees to be fully vaccinated, and according to the Virginia Department of Health’s Interim Guidance for COVID-19 Prevention in Virginia PreK-12 Schools, vaccinating teachers and school staff is a critical layer of prevention and protection for all;
and WHEREAS, on August 12, 2021, the Virginia Commissioner of Public Health issued an Order of Public Health Emergency, acknowledging the need to contain, control and prevent additional COVID-19 infections in schools in light of emerging data showing that the Delta variant is different than the past version of the virus and is more contagious;
and WHEREAS, it is the highest priority of the Prince William County School Board to open its schools for in-person learning while protecting the health and safety of students and staff, and in order to do so, it is necessary to require all PWCS officials, employees, and those persons providing services who have direct contact with PWCS students to be vaccinated.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that:
A. Disclosure of Vaccine Status All PWCS officers and employees, and all persons providing services to PWCS who have direct contact with PWCS students, must disclose their vaccine status to the Department of Human Resources by November 1, 2021. New employees will be required to disclose vaccination status to the Department of Human Resources within 30 days of hire.
B. Weekly Testing All PWCS officers and employees, including new employees, and all persons providing services to PWCS who have direct contact with students, who are not fully vaccinated or who refuse to disclose their current vaccine status, as required by Section A of this Resolution, must undergo weekly COVID-19 testing and disclose the results of those tests to the Department of Human Resources as requested.
C. Accommodations The Superintendent and her designees shall issue guidance to implement this Resolution, including the process used for disclosure of vaccination status; protocols for, and coordination of, weekly testing; and the process used to evaluate objections based on religion or disability and the availability, if any, of reasonable accommodations for such objections. T
This Resolution shall be effective as of the date of its adoption by majority vote of the Prince William County School Board.
ADOPTED by the Prince William County School Board this 15th day of September, 2021.
Babur B. Lateef, M.D.,
Chairman At-Large Prince William County School Board