BLAINE COUNTY, Idaho — On Tuesday night, the board for the Blaine County School District voted 4-1 to require all new hires into the district to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
The vote will require all new employees to show proof of vaccination against COVID-19 unless they have a religious or medical exemption.
"If we've got a healthy adult who is taking a job with the district and they're going to be paid with taxpayer dollars, that I can't see any reason why we would hire them without proof of vaccination," school board Chairman Keith Roark said during Tuesday's meeting.
According to the Idaho Mountain Express, 70% of the district's employees responded to an anonymous survey about their vaccination status. Of those who responded to the survey, about 85% had been vaccinated.
However, the school board's decision does not extend to current staff members, which became an issue between the board members. Current district employees are under contract for the 2021-2022 school year so Roark sees two separate issues, current staff members and new hires.
Trustee Amber Larna, who was the only board member to vote against the requirement, said she does not think it's fair that the district is changing its policy four weeks into the school year while there are unvaccinated staff members in the district.
"It's their body and it's their choice. But as you, Chairman Roark, said, if they don't like it then they can go and find another job. So I think that it's a little bit unfair that we're doing this now," Larna said.
Trustee Lara Stone said that aside from everyone staying home, there's no perfect way to protect people from COVID-19 but having students in classrooms is a priority. "So it's kind of a layered approach," she said.
Roark said it doesn't make any sense to him to bring in new hires who aren't vaccinated.
Currently, the Blaine County School District has a face mask mandate and the state's highest average attendance of 95%, according to the Idaho Mountain Express.
"If somebody wants to be hired, and they say, 'I want to be hired, but I'm not going to be vaccinated,' I think that question just answers itself. Go find another job," Roark said.
At KTVB, we’re focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the virus. To see our full coverage, visit our coronavirus section, here: www.ktvb.com/coronavirus.
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