Monday marked the deadline for DC Public Schools (DCPS) staff and teachers, as well as some student-athletes, to be vaccinated against COVID-19. But a day later, the school system released data showing that there are still many who have not been vaccinated.
According to data provided by DCPS, 79% of all school staff are fully vaccinated. For teachers alone, that number rises to 85%.
“It’s really important that we keep pushing to make sure more employees are vaccinated and that they do it in a timely manner,” said DC Deputy Mayor John Falcicchio.
Teachers and staff who have not been vaccinated will not face any discipline yet, Falcicchio said.
The policy will be to contact those who have not been vaccinated and encourage them to get shots before facing any action.
“Our message to the workforce is that we really want you to understand the importance of being vaccinated. We want you to comply with what we have set, and if there is no compliance, then we must talk about enforcement. ” said Falcicchio. “We are not rushing into enforcement in a way that would be disruptive to what is happening in the classrooms or in the schools.”
All DC Fire and EMS employees were given a mandate to be vaccinated more than a month ago. Like the school staff, hundreds remain unvaccinated and no one has been subjected to any discipline. Like firefighters, there are hundreds of teachers who have requested either medical or religious exemptions, and so far, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser’s administration has not commented on any of those requests.
As for the district’s mask mandate, Falcicchio hopes it can be eased if the daily number of new COVID-19 cases continues to fall. He said COVID-19 measurements have improved through October.
“We look to DC Health to give us a sense of when we think the mask mandate can be lifted,” he said.
Falcicchio would not provide a timeline or specific measurements to lift DC’s mask mandate.
District officials told News4 that as long as an employee has a pending request for a religious or medical exemption, they will not be considered inconsistent for not being vaccinated.