Fairfax Co. teachers call for public school vaccine mandate

Public schools in Arlington, Virginia, Montgomery and Prince George’s counties in Maryland, along with D.C., have already implemented vaccine requirements for teachers. Now, a group representing Fairfax County teachers wants the same.

The Fairfax County Federation of Teachers said it wants a vaccine mandate imposed on all eligible Fairfax County Public Schools staffers.

“FCFT supports FCPS requiring all staff members to provide proof of vaccination and requiring all those who do not provide proof of vaccination to participate in weekly COVID testing,” the Fairfax County Federation of Teachers said in a statement.

Later in the day, the Fairfax Education Association, a union representing Fairfax County Public Schools employees, said in a statement to WTOP that it also fully supports vaccine mandate as well as universal masking for all people entering school buildings, regardless of vaccination status. It also agrees with weekly testing of employees who are not able to be vaccinated.

“The main goal of all of this is to protect the health and safety of all students and staff, and our community in general,” President Kimberly Adams said in a statement.

But even if county school officials signed off on a vaccine mandate, it would come too late for all eligible school employees to be vaccinated in time for the first day of classes on Monday, Aug. 23.

Fairfax County Public Schools, which returns to five days a week of in-person learning this school year, will require all students and staff to wear a mask inside school buildings. Masks will not be required outside.

It said students and faculty are asked to self-assess and stay home if they feel sick or are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19.

The Fairfax County Federation of Teachers said it wants Fairfax County Public Schools to team with the Fairfax County Health Department in order to make COVID-19 testing and vaccinations available for students and staffers.

“On-site rapid testing in FCPS schools and offices should be considered,” said the group.

“FCPS continues to consider all measures to keep staff and students safe,” a Fairfax County Public Schools spokesperson told WTOP.

Matt Small

Matt joined WTOP News at the start of 2020, after contributing to Washington’s top news outlet as an Associated Press journalist for nearly 18 years.

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