LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Kentucky’s largest school district will now require staff members to be vaccinated or tested following a vote by the Jefferson County Public School Board.
Under the requirement, JCPS employees would have to be fully vaccinated by a certain date. If not, they would have to be tested weekly or bi-weekly. The deadline was originally set for Oct. 14, but Mark Hebert said the deadline was being extended to work out the logistics of how employees would confirm their vaccination status.
The measure affects more than 18,000 employed by the district.
Emilie McKiernan Blanton with the Jefferson County Teacher’s Association released a statement shortly after the decision.
“As educators, it is our job to take care of kids and that also means taking care of the community that they live in as well as the adults responsible for them. We know vaccines work and we also know that people who contract COVID despite the vaccine fare better than those without it. I am grateful that JCPS adopted policies and procedures that will facilitate testing for our unvaccinated staff members in order to keep our children as safe as possible. As a teacher, I’ve lost students and worked with kids after they lost important adults in their lives before COVID. It is not an experience I’d wish on anyone. Anything we can do to save lives is the right thing to do.”
Here is the full list of the provisions:
- All JCPS employees shall be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, subject to the accommodation provisions of Title VII and the ADA;
- All employees who are not fully vaccinated shall undergo COVID-19 testing, subject to Title VII and ADA accommodation provisions, at a minimum of once every other week and no more than once a week;
- The District will provide free COVID testing and time to be tested with classroom coverage when necessary;
- Employees may choose to arrange their own COVID-19 testing through a licensed medical provider;
- An employee shall not be penalized if the District fails to provide free COVID-19 testing or necessary classroom coverage; and
- Compliance with this requirement is a condition of employment with JCPS.
The decision was welcomed by teachers like Susan Smuskiewiczshe, who is already vaccinated. "There is nothing more that I want than to be in the classroom with my students."
The Atherton High School English Teacher said, "at the end of the day I want the best for my students and also for my son who is also a JCPS student."