Many DC charter schools to require vaccination or regular testing for employees

A group of charter schools in the District has announced it will be mandating employees to get a COVID-19 vaccine or submit to regular testing as a condition of employment, the DC Charter School Alliance announced Thursday.

In a letter to D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, the alliance said its top priority is protecting students and staff as they go about the process of reopening buildings for the school year.

“While each local education agency is independent, we have committed to requiring our staff to get vaccinated or comply with regular COVID-19 testing,” the alliance said in a statement.

Employees of charter schools did not fall under the purview of Bowser’s order requiring District government and public school staff to be vaccinated, and charter schools were left to decide if they would require vaccinations.

Each charter school had the ability to set its own COVID-19 vaccine policy, but Founding Executive Director of the DC Charter School Alliance, Shannon Hodge, said many charter schools in D.C. had already decided to require their employees to be vaccinated ahead of the city’s announcement.

On Aug. 11, Bowser penned a letter asking charter schools in the District to require employees to get vaccinated or get tested.

Hodge said she was grateful for the mayor’s guidance, but hoped charter schools are included in future conversations about school safety.

“Unfortunately, charter schools did not receive any heads-up, and so they learned about (the vaccine requirement) from the mayor’s press conference or after the press conference,” Hodge said. “Many of the charter schools had already made the decision to vaccinate or test, and so it was just a matter of putting their names into a document to show that is the case.”

Hodge said charter schools still have questions about the mayor’s request for them to require vaccinations or tests and would like some clarification.

“For example: Is the city paying for the testing that Mayor Bowser encouraged for charter school staff, and is there a way in the future — if there are changes in policies like there are now — is there a way that charter schools can get a heads-up so that they can keep their school communities informed and be prepared to talk to the public?”

Hodge said there was a lot of confusion after the mayor’s announcement on Tuesday, and an advanced warning of the changes could have helped charter schools more effectively speak to their communities.

Hodge said there were roughly 10,000 people employed by D.C. charter schools at last count.

A list of charter schools requiring vaccination is available online.

More Coronavirus News

Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.

Zeke Hartner

Zeke Hartner is a digital writer/editor who has been with WTOP since 2017. He is a graduate of North Carolina State University’s Political Science program and an avid news junkie.

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