School personnel approved for vaccine exemptions may have additional safety protocols to follow

MEDFORD, Ore. – With less than a month before Governor Kate Brown’s vaccination mandate deadline, some school staff may apply for exemptions. But even if it is approved, they may still be required to take certain protective measures.

We’ve already told you what school employees have to go through to get a religious or medical exemption from the state’s vaccine mandate. But what else do these teachers need to take if they don’t get the vaccine?

“We are demanding additional requirements for these employees, that is the rule,” said Medford School District Superintendent Bret Champion. The rule he’s referring to comes from the Oregon Health Authority.

On the Secretary of State’s website, it says schools that grant exceptions to the requirement must take reasonable steps to prevent the spread of Covid-19 with unvaccinated staff. He goes on to say that nothing in this rule is intended to prohibit schools from having more restrictive or additional requirements.

On an OHA question and answer page, the state spells out some of the things a school might require.

This includes wearing an n95 mask, physically distancing from others, working a modified shift, regular testing, or even working remotely. It is not clear whether these suggested safety measures are the same for all schools in the state or if they are just suggestions that schools or school districts can expand upon.

At MSD, this is done on a case-by-case basis.

“For us it’s weekly testing or if there is any concern then the employee can meet with HR and talk about another standard which could be a K95 mask or double mask, things like that.” , Champion explained. He says any requirements given to unvaccinated staff will be in addition to existing security measures in schools against Covid-19.

“It doesn’t change the amazing work our people do at school, like masking and social distancing and all the rules around that. These are still in place, ”he said.

We reached out to several local and state teachers’ unions to see if there was any further discussion about accommodations for unvaccinated school staff. We still have no response from any of them.

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