BEACHWOOD, Ohio — Beachwood City Schools is considering a policy that would mandate the COVID-19 vaccine for all staff or require those staff members who are not vaccinated to be tested weekly, superintendent Dr. Robert Hardis announced in a message to families in the district.
Hardis said even though the district is five weeks into the learning year, the proposal is coming now because the FDA fully approved the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.
The plan also proposes that students 16 years and older who participate in extracurricular activities such as sports either be vaccinated or be tested for COVID-19 weekly.
"It applies to 16-year-olds and older because this is the age set by the Food and Drug Administration when they gave their full approval to the Pfizer vaccine," Hardis said.
Hardis said they have been exploring the option and have gotten support from doctors throughout the district, and the policy will be presented to the Board of Education Monday evening during a public meeting.
The goals of the "Vax or Test" plan proposed by Hardis and Beachwood City Schools are to keep the community healthy and safe, protect those who can not get a vaccine, maintain in-person learning for students and take advantage of the quarantining guidelines that allow vaccinated students and staff to stay in school after close contact with a COVID-19 positive person.
Under the proposal, staff and students who are already vaccinated will be able to submit a photo or scan of their vaccination card to the human resources department and held as a private medical record. Those who are not vaccinated but decided to receive the vaccine will submit their information after each dose. Those who will not receive the vaccine will have to submit negative COVID-19 test results electronically each week to the HR department.
Hardis said the district is prepared to provide free test kits to those having difficulties getting a COVID-19 test and that it has partnered with the Midwest Coordination Center for testing as well. The testing process will have a one-day turn around, will happen on a predesignated day and will be self-administered.
If approved, the proposal would be the first in Cuyahoga County but not the first in the state. Earlier in September, board of education members in Cincinnati voted that district's 'Vax or Test' proposal into action unanimously.
"If we know that this disease is starting to kill children and that these variants are targeting children, I think that's all the more reason we should act," said board member Mike Moroski.
"We have to figure out how to keep people safe and healthy and the schools open in-person," said another member Eve Bolton.
Hardis said about 80% of the staff at Beachwood City Schools are already vaccinated.
If supported by the Board, Hardis believes the "Vax or Test" proposal will be voted on at the following meeting on Oct. 11.
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