Employees for the Arlington County government and public school system will be required to get a COVID-19 vaccine or receive weekly testing for the virus, the county announced Thursday.
The requirement will take effect Aug. 30, and the county said it was “a necessary step to help keep the community safe” and is consistent with COVID-19 public health guidance.
“Arlington County is requiring vaccinations for its employees because it’s the best way to keep people safe, especially as the region sees an increasing trend of COVID-19 cases,” County Manager Mark Schwartz said in a statement. “Our top priority continues to be the health and well-being of our employees, residents and community.”
Unvaccinated workers will be required to submit to weekly COVID-19 testing, which will be offered free.
When the new school year begins Aug. 30, masks will also be required inside all school buildings — regardless of vaccination status. The county made the decision to require masks before Gov. Ralph Northam’s administration mandated the use of masks in public schools across the commonwealth.
“Our priority is to protect the health and well-being of our students and staff as we open schools on Aug. 30. We are taking a layered approach to protect our community and to ensure our schools remain open and safe for student learning,” Public School Superintendent Dr. Francisco Durán said in a statement. “Mandatory staff vaccinations and our universal mask requirement are two of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and are vital ways we are working to keep our schools open and safe for all.”
Over 71% of Arlington County residents over the age of 12 have been vaccinated. Those who have not yet been vaccinated can find more information on Arlington County’s coronavirus dashboard.