If you work at an Oregon school, you will soon have to get vaccinated.
Governor Kate Brown announced the requirement during a press conference Thursday, which includes teachers and staff at public, private and charter schools.
“When a mandate like this comes down and you have staff members who are forced to make a decision about whether or not they want to continue their employment, when we are just two weeks before the start of school, it is a hardship,” said Crook County School District’s Director of Communications Jason Carr.
The requirement goes into effect October 18th, or six weeks after the vaccine gains FDA approval.
“We expect some tough conversations about some people’s futures about not only our school district, but just working in public schools in general,” Carr said.
If schools choose not to comply, there will be consequences.
“The Oregon Health Authority has authority and state statute to levy civil penalties against the school district or employer who fails to follow these requirements,” Oregon Department of Education Director Colt Gill said.
Culver Superintendent Stefanie Garber said she was in shock after hearing the news, and is scared school staff will potentially quit.
The Redmond School District also released the following statement after hearing the news:
“The Redmond School District was surprised by the governor’s announcement today. The Oregon Health Authority has not yet released the rule regarding mandatory vaccination for all staff, which we need to have in hand in order to answer our staff’s questions and concerns.”
“We still have a lot of questions, but the top priority for all of us is providing a high-quality, in-person education for our students. We have urged our staff not to make any decisions about their employment until we’ve had a chance to look over the guidance, but we will work with our associations to deal with this, while keeping kids and their safety at the forefront of all our minds. “
The 509J School District Superintendent Jay Mathisen also released a statement:
“Late this morning, Oregon Governor Kate Brown announced a new directive requiring K-12 school district employees to become fully vaccinated by mid-October.
“We are currently digesting this new directive in real-time and will be processing what we have just learned with our leadership team, local health authorities in Warm Springs and Madras and others.
“This announcement will not delay our return to school for in-person instruction this fall. Our plan is to implement the protocols needed to reliably hold school in-person every school day, for all students, all year.”
When asked if the shot will be required for students upon FDA approval, Brown said it was not out of the question.
“All options are on the table to make sure our kids are in the classroom full time and to limit disruptions,” she said.
Health care workers are also required to be vaccinated and no longer have the option of weekly COVID testing.
Central Oregon Daily News reached out to the Bend-La Pine School District and the Sisters School District, but did not hear back.