First day of school!

St. Albans Town Educational Center was in full swing on the first day of school last week.

ST. ALBANS — All staff in the Maple Run Unified School District will be required to show proof of vaccination in order to continue working his fall, with limited exception.

In a memo to staff sent out Sept. 3, superintendent Bill Kimball states that vaccinated employees have until 3 p.m. Sept. 17 to show their vaccination card to Aron Smith, executive assistant to the superintendent.

If staff refuse to get vaccinated, the administration’s response is first to provide education to the staff member, but discipline will progress “up to and including termination,” Kimball told The Messenger on Friday. The memo allows for some medical and non-medical exemptions with weekly testing.

“I see our teachers as essential workers,” Kimball said. “With our increase in cases since we started school, we want to ensure the safety of students and staff. From the data and science and risk-assessments, the best thing we can require is vaccines for staff.”

As of Friday, Sept. 3, there were 12 cases of COVID-19 across all of the schools in the district, Kimball said. Those schools are Bellows Free Academy, St. Albans City School, Northwest Technical Center, St. Albans Educational Center and the Fairfield Center, according to the district website.

Students started testing positive at the end of last week, Kimball said, adding that 170 students are in quarantine situations because of possible exposure.

“It would be a lot higher if it weren’t for the vaccinations of the families,” Kimball said.

The Sept. 3 memo states that if staff are unvaccinated, they must show they have received their first dose of the vaccine by Sept. 17. Those who plan to receive a two-dose vaccination must show a planned date to get their second shot by Oct. 15.

During the two-week period between vaccines, those in the process will need to submit to weekly COVID tests through the district surveillance testing program.

All vaccine information will be kept confidential, it states.

Medical exemptions

If staff have a medical reason for not being vaccinated, they must provide to Smith by Sept. 17 a doctor’s note stating the nature of the condition and why they cannot receive a vaccine.

Any staff member with a medical exemption will be required to submit a negative test result to that person’s supervisor by 3 p.m. every Wednesday or before the shift begins that day, according to the release.

The Maple Run Unified School District is partnering with the Department of Health and Agency of Education to provide weekly surveillance testing every Monday, Kimball’s memo stated. All medically exempt employees must enroll in this testing, it adds.

Non-medical exemptions

Any exemptions staff seek must be submitted in writing to Kimball, including the “sincerely-held beliefs that preclude vaccination,” the release states.

“Most likely, everyone will have to meet either with their principal and/or myself,” Kimball wrote.

Anyone approved for a non-medical exemption will also be required to submit a weekly negative COVID test result to their supervisor either before their shift begins on Wednesday or by 3 p.m. that day. All COVID testing is free to staff members.

Any staff who do not comply with vaccination requirements, do not submit a doctor’s note or do not receive an alternative exemption from administration may be disciplined up to and including termination, the notice said.

Photos of vaccination cards can also be emailed to Smith. If staff have lost their vaccination card, they are required to use the Vermont Department of Health’s website to obtain records of their vaccination for submission to administration.

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