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Local educators weigh in on California’s COVID-19 vaccine, testing requirement for school staff

Published: Aug. 11, 2021 at 10:26 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - California is now the first state to require school staff to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Some North Carolina teachers say it should happen here too.

California will now require all school staff including teachers, custodians, cafeteria workers and school volunteers to get the COVID-19 vaccine or complete weekly testing.

The Strong Schools NC Public Health Toolkit does not require vaccines for school staff.

Instead, the guidance says school administrators should encourage the vaccine for eligible staff and students.

Currently, only children 12 and up can get the COVID-19 vaccine.

According to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, during the week of 8/1 there were 4,760 new cases in kids ages 0 to 17.

On Tuesday, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Superintendent Earnest Winston said the Board had not considered making vaccines mandatory for CMS employees.

“We have no current plans we have had no serious discussions about requiring staff to become vaccinated. I do think it’s important to also note that no other district to my knowledge in North Carolina has taken that particular approach, the route of requiring staff to get vaccinated,” Winston said.

A new school year always comes with excitement but as the country tries to reclaim pre-COVID normalcy in schools, this year also comes with some unease.

“I have mixed feelings. I’m not sure what it’s going to look like at full capacity we haven’t been at full capacity,” said CMS teacher Jennifer Bourne.

CMS teacher Jennifer Bourne agreed with California’s vaccine and testing requirement and says it’s something N.C. should consider.

“Having testing on-site would be fantastic for schools. I think mandatory vaccines would be fantastic for school staff, helping us really live into that duty of care for those that we’re teaching and working with and their families that they’re returning to at the end of the day,” Bourne said.

Former Union County Public Schools Teacher April Wyche doesn’t work inside the classroom anymore but helps students in person with virtual learning.

She says with some districts making masks optional, requiring tests and vaccines could better help slow the spread. She reminds us that children under the age of 12 can’t get vaccinated so it’s our job to protect them.

“There’s no clear knowledge of what’s going to happen to me if I get sick or what’s going to happen to that student if they get sick. It’s just not worth the risk so being vaccinated is step one and the second is to be masked,” said educator April Wyche.

While she’s already fully vaccinated, Bourne says the precautions don’t stop there.

“I’m going to do everything I can to make sure none of us take it home to our family and none of us get sick,” Bourne said.

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