More than 10,400 Prince William County School employees have opted to receive the COVID-19, but hundreds still have not.
On Mar. 3, the board considered whether to officially encourage all employees, who are able to, to promptly receive their vaccinations. The resolution failed via a 3-5 vote.
Gainesville school board member Jennifer Wall brought forth the resolution. It acknowledges the school division has made the COVID-19 vaccine available to all employees, the governor wants schools open by March 15, and having staff vaccinated makes in-person learning safer for everyone.
“…And whereas the education of students and the safety of students and staff is of paramount importance to the school board, be it hereby resolved that Prince William County School Board encourages all PWCS employees who are able to do so to promptly receive the COVID-19 vaccine as it is made available to them in order to facilitate the provision of in-person learning to PWCS students whose education continues to be adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and results in the closure of schools.”
Since students were already in school, and by and large teachers have been vaccinated, most school board members focused what they did not like about the resolution.
Woodbridge School Board member Loree Williams likened it to a “bully move." Williams said people should still have the choice. Some do not feel comfortable taking the vaccine, and some may have cultural reasons for refusing.
She said the school division has “bent over backwards” to offer the vaccine and most have taken advantage of that, which is ideal. She said not having to quarantine staff would be a benefit; however, she said coming from an employer, it is a legally gray area.
Occoquan School Board member agreed. “I’m not sure why we need the resolution…Some people have not taken the vaccine for religious reasons….(This resolution) implies we have problems with those who do not.”
Brentsville School Board member Adele Jackson said she agreed with Williams and Jessie's sentiments.
Wall. Babur Lateef (Chairman At-large) and Lisa Zargurpur (Coles) voted for the resolution.
Williams, Jessie, Adele Jackson, Diane Raulston (Neabsco) and Justin Wilk (Potomac) voted "no."
Lateef, Wall and Zargurpur have advocated for offering in-person learning for all students sooner rather than later. Wilk wanted students to return before spring break. Raulston has voted most recently to return in accordance to the Chairman's time table as well.
Currently, all PWCS PreK-12 students have the option to attend school in-person. Students can choose to remain all-virtual or attend 2-days in-person and 2-days virtually. Some middle and high school students returned this week. The division has phased in Pre-K-3 students throughout the first and second marking periods. ELL and some special education students have been in person since September.