Shaker Heights Schools considers a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for all staff

Shaker Heights logo on a basketball court
If Shaker Heights' school board passes the vaccine mandate, it would go into effect Nov. 1. [Annie Wu / Ideastream Public Media]

The Shaker Heights City School District is considering a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for all staff and volunteers. If it passes at the board’s regular meeting next Tuesday, the policy would go into effect Nov. 1. This would give time for staff who haven’t received an FDA-approved vaccine to do so, according to Superintendent David Glasner.

The district is considering the mandate for two primary reasons, Glasner said.

“First, we have prioritized our students and staff health and safety, and we want to make sure that we can continue to have in-person learning. We know that's where we can best meet our students needs, when they're on site and in person,” Glasner told Ideastream Public Media Wednesday. “We also think we have a responsibility to our larger community to help stop the spread of COVID, to help keep our community healthy and safe.”

The school board is holding a special meeting Thursday at Shaker Heights High School to hear a first reading of the COVID-19 vaccine policy ahead of next week’s vote. Members of the public have been invited to speak either in person or online, but are asked to sign up prior to the meeting.

Although the topic of mask mandates have caused furor in many districts in the region, Glasner doesn’t expect a lot of pushback. He adds that Shaker is fortunate to have “a lot of community support for the COVID mitigation policies we put in place.”

“All of our collective bargaining units are in support of this vaccine policy, and our community at large is overwhelmingly in favor of the vaccine policy as well,” Glasner said. “We did want to make sure to have a special board meeting where we have an opportunity to discuss the policy so that our public and our board has a chance to provide comment on the public policy and also to ask in the board's case any any questions that they may have about the policy.”

The district has had its "ups and downs" when it comes to COVID cases among students and staff since the school year started, Glasner said. According to the district's COVID-19 dashboard, there have been 68 student cases and nine staff cases since Aug. 1, 2021, in the district of almost 5,000 students.

Glasner says adding that the vaccine mandate is more about getting ahead of the problem.  

“Like a lot of other school districts, our teacher and administrator vaccination rate is particularly high. We think there are probably some gaps in vaccination rates among our other staff,” Glasner said. “For people who have been hesitant to get the vaccine up until now, you know, this is a measure that we can take to help and encourage those folks to get the vaccine. You know, every little bit really helps.”

Last month, Cincinatti Public Schools was the first in the state to implement a district wide vaccine mandate for staff.

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