RICHMOND, Va. -- The superintendent of Richmond Public Schools (RPS) said he plans to endorse a vaccine mandate for employees of the school system.
In an email to parents and staff Thursday evening, RPS Superintendent Jason Kamras said he would recommend the mandate, which would be similar to the one announced for city employees Wednesday by Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney, at the school board meeting on Aug. 16.
"I don't do so lightly. I recognize that many RPS staff members still feel uncertain about getting the vaccine," Kamras wrote. "While I certainly respect everyone's individual perspective on this issue, we have a collective obligation as a school division to do everything humanly possible to protect the health and safety of our students and staff. Requiring the vaccine will help us do that. It will also help us keep school open – which is critical for our students' academic, mental, and physical health; and our families' economic stability."
Kamras said he would offer more information, like a deadline for getting vaccinated and how medical or religious exemption would work, next week.
"For now, if you are an RPS employee and you are not vaccinated, please visit Vaccinate Virginia to find the vaccination site closest to you and schedule your first shot as soon as possible," Kamras wrote.
School board vice chairman Jonathan Young said he did not support the mandate.
"Vaccinated since I was first afforded the opportunity this spring, I encourage everyone to get the shot but to adopt a big-brother government mandate constitutes a gross abuse of persons’ civil liberties,” Young wrote.
The news also comes after Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced Thursday that state employees would be required to show proof of vaccination by Sept. 1 -- or submit to get weekly testing for COVID-19 and show proof of a negative result.
Virginians age 12+ are eligible for COVID-19 vaccine. Pre-registration is no longer required, so go to Vaccine Finder to search for specific vaccines available near you or call 877-VAX-IN-VA (877-275-8343).
Have You Been Fully Vaccinated?
People are considered fully vaccinated:
- 2 weeks after their second dose in a 2-dose series, such as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or
- 2 weeks after a single-dose vaccine, such as Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine
How to Protect Yourself and Others When You’ve Been Fully Vaccinated
COVID-19 vaccines are effective at protecting you from getting sick. Based on what we know about COVID-19 vaccines, people who have been fully vaccinated can start to do some things that they had stopped doing because of the pandemic.
We’re still learning how vaccines will affect the spread of COVID-19. After you’ve been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, you should keep taking precautions—like wearing a mask, staying 6 feet apart from others, and avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces—in public places until we know more.
These recommendations can help you make decisions about daily activities after you are fully vaccinated. They are not intended for healthcare settings.