▶ Local teachers speak out about vaccine mandate

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Some teachers are making big decisions with the announcement of a vaccine mandate for this upcoming school year.

With the first day of school right around the corner, staff are gearing up for in-person learning during a global pandemic.

“Any steps necessary I think to be able to keep that school community safe, whether it is the vaccine or masks, is probably the right move,” said R.E. Jewell Elementary P.E. teacher Adam Howell.

Howell says he knows how powerful and important it is to see students in the classroom every day.

“What we don’t want, is we don’t want to fall into the trap that some other states are in right now, where they are already back to distance learning, they are already back in quarantine, with students getting sick, we don’t want that,” Howell added.

Mary Wellington teaches Spanish at Pacific Crest Middle school.

“I am willing to go with what it takes to keep our students, staff and community safe,” said Wellington.

Thursday Gov. Kate Brown said all options are on the table in response to a student vaccine requirement.

▶️ Local schools react to Brown’s school staff vaccination requirement

“We already have vaccine mandates for different things like Polio, Smallpox,” Wellington said. “There’s a lot of vaccines that are already required for students to be in school, so to have that requirement for something else, I feel like is not that big of a stretch.”

The vaccine requirement for all Oregon school staff goes into effect October 18th, or six weeks from FDA approval, whichever comes sooner.

“My decision-making process for me was how can I be that consistent presence in my students’ lives, how can I be there every day, how can I be in keeping my community and my kids and my students safe, how can I do that,” Howell asked.

Bend-La Pine Schools are scheduled to start after Labor Day.

“I would encourage anyone on the fence to challenge their thinking and go through that process,” Howell said.

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