Most major public school systems in the D.C. region will require that their teachers receive the COVID-19 vaccine or be tested regularly, and the system in Alexandria, Virginia, can now be added to that list.
The Alexandria City School Board voted Thursday to require teachers and other staff members to receive the vaccine or submit to testing on a weekly basis, though the timeline as to when the new regulations would take effect remained unclear following the board’s meeting.
“We are seeing a spike in positive cases,” said Alexandria City Public Schools Superintendent Gregory Hutchings.
“We have to respond as a school division to continue to ensure that the health and safety of our students and staff continues to be at the forefront.”
Under the plan submitted by Hutchings, employees would need to show proof of vaccination by Sept. 7. Those who are not vaccinated would need to start undergoing regular testing on Sept. 20.
That schedule did not sit well with many members of the board who argued that the timeline should be accelerated.
“I am really concerned,” said Alexandria school board member Cindy Anderson. “We need to be more aggressive. I worry that things could get out of hand.”
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Hutchings said a delay was needed so Alexandria could put into place a testing system and a database to be used for storing private health information.
Board members voted to approve a different timeline, one that would require proof of vaccination by Aug. 27. Those who are not vaccinated would need to start undergoing regular testing on Aug. 30.
While board members approved the different schedule, it remained unclear whether school system leaders could actually accomplish everything they need to get done within that short amount of time.
Classes for the new school year are set to begin Tuesday, Aug. 24.