That’s all the time remaining for Oregon school staff to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 if they want to keep their jobs.
“We’ve had at this point about seven staff members that have decided to either resign or retire early because of the vaccine mandate,” Crook County Schools Communications Director Jason Carr said.
With 515 employees at Crook County Schools, seven departures is less than expected.
“A majority of our staff have realized that hey, if I want to stay in education and I want to be a part of this district, this is what I have to do,” Carr added.
Staff members have until October 18th to either get the vaccine or get a religious exemption approved.
“We don’t anticipate a lot of staff in that position but those that are simply won’t be able to be in the building based on that mandate,” Carr said.
If staff members do not comply with the mandate by that date, they will be placed on unpaid leave and the district will work with them to complete the requirements.
If they refuse, the district will take that as a sign that they no longer wish to be employed by Crook County Schools.
The Redmond School District told Central Oregon Daily News on Monday it will uphold the state mandate as well, and dismiss staff members who don’t comply by the deadline.
Bend La-Pine Schools did not respond to a request for comment.
Deschutes County Public Health has seen some evidence of school staff getting the vaccine during the final time window.
“We don’t have people divulge what their employment status is, but anecdotally, we’ve seen teachers, we’ve seen healthcare providers whose employment is subject to the mandate come in and utilize the clinic for vaccination,” Deschutes County Public Health Vaccine Operations Supervisor Crystal Sully said at a pop-up clinic at the Sisters Fire House on Monday.
Mandated vaccinations haven’t been the only cause of higher vaccine rates.
“Last week is the first week that we started giving boost doses of Pfizer,” Sully said. “So we’ve seen that big bump last week. Normally we were giving around 220 doses of total vaccine a week, just in our little county pop-ups. Last week we gave about 750 doses, so that was a big increase.”
Sully said they’ve also seen an increase in calls to their information hotline during the past couple of weeks as community members seek education before making a choice.
“We’ve been having these pop-ups every week and letting the public know we’re here for education as well,” she said. “And there’s a number of people in the community who have taken the opportunity to get education and then come get the vaccine when they’re ready.”
Carr said the time for school staff to take the shot is now.
“This is the week to do it because there’s about two weeks before the mandate goes into effect,” he said. “So we’re working really diligently this week to communicate with staff that hey, we need you to make your determination this week so we can plan ahead.”