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Board approves Richmond public school staff vaccine mandate

August 17, 2021 GMT

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — All Richmond public school staff must get the COVID-19 vaccine by Oct. 1.

The Richmond School Board approved Superintendent Jason Kamras’ push for a vaccine mandate for staff on Monday in an 8-1 vote, news outlets report. Other adults in the school buildings, such as volunteers and community partners, are also required to get vaccinated.

School Board’s Vice Chair Jonathan Young cast the lone dissenting vote, saying he couldn’t support a mandate because it wouldn’t show employees that the board and the administration trust personnel.

There will be some exemptions, including staff with religious or medical reasons preventing them from getting a vaccine. The superintendent said a doctor will have to sign off on that.

Richmond schools are set to reopen fully for the first time in more than 500 days on Sept. 8. The school system was the last in the state to offer any in-person instruction.

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Last week, Gov. Ralph Northam mandated mask use in K-12 schools, but he’s currently leaving vaccine mandates for educational employees up to localities.

Richmond, like other localities, must reopen under a new state law that mandates that school systems offer full-time, in-person learning. Under the law, school systems can close only when there’s a severe outbreak in schools, as defined by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.