PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Portland Public Schools is the first school district in Oregon to require all employees to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
PPS said on Wednesday that employees must submit proof of full vaccination by August 31, unless they have an approved exemption. There will be weekly testing until vaccination can be proved or for those with special exemptions.
Students return to the classroom full-time on September 1.
The exact details of the plan are still being worked out with the union. There hasn’t been a decision made about vaccine requirements for school volunteers and contractors.
The Portland Association of Teachers — which represents more than 4500 professional educators — said it supports the mandate and 98% of its members are already vaccinated. The union representing office staff said it also supports the requirement and is calling for the state to explore the possibility of requiring eligible students age 12 and up to be vaccinated as well.
“An additional piece that is important for our community to talk about when we’re talking about making schools safe is how do we reach herd immunity in our schools and that is going to have to impact students and that’s something the school district is not able to do now,” said Elizabeth Thiel, president of the Portland Association of Teachers.
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Any decision regarding vaccine mandates for kids would have to be made by the Oregon Health Authority. The OHA would have to wait until COVID vaccines receive full approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, not just emergency use authorization. Mask requirements for everyone will be in place at all Oregon K-12 schools.