This week marks the beginning of providing proof of COVID vaccine or undergo weekly testing in school districts across my state of New Jersey. I am a proponent of vaccine mandates for school staff and make no excuses for my position. We are in charge of caring for other people’s children, and so we must do whatever is necessary to provide as safe an environment as possible. Vaccination is the most protective factor, but second to universal masking, the most controversial.
Some states like California are already well ahead of the curve, setting a much-needed trend to mandate staff and student vaccinations. With most things COVID-related, there is no national implementation of vaccination mandates, in spite of the Biden administration’s recommendation. Resistance has been fierce, as school districts across the country have made policy decisions that some view as an infringement on their civil liberties. School board meetings have become boiling points for opposing opinions, sometimes ending in police action to quell the open hostility.
Testing protocols in schools have added another layer of complexity to school nurses’ already overstretched workload. While we may not be directly responsible for testing staff, the fallout typically lands in our offices. School safety has a heightened meaning in the COVID-era. I am bracing myself for another challenging week, as I know many of my colleagues are as well. There are new guidelines from my state health department to review, addtional reporting mandates to parse out, and now the implementation of staff testing.
Here is a comprehensive view of 100 school districts across the country and their responses to vaccine and/or testing mandates:
By the Numbers — How 100 School Systems Are (and Aren’t) Adapting to COVID: Staff Vaccine Mandates, Incentives and Consequences
Let’s see how this plays out over the next few weeks. Tell us what is happening in your school district and what additional responsibilities are falling on your shoulders. Have a safe week!