The Fairfax County, Virginia, government and the public school system will each require workers to get vaccinated against COVID-19 or submit to routine testing.
Fairfax County Public Schools said in a news release Friday that they will require the vaccinations or tests by late October. The county government said the requirement would begin in the fall, but didn’t specify a date.
“We know vaccinations save lives and that these vaccines are safe and effective,” Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeffrey C. McKay said in a statement. “… As one of the largest employers in Virginia, and one that has successfully and consistently stressed to our residents the importance of being vaccinated, we must practice what we preach.”
The school system’s move came a day after the Fairfax County Federation of Teachers and the Fairfax Education Association said they supported such a requirement.
The school system said in its statement it is taking this step “to give employees the peace of mind that comes with knowing their workplace is a safe place,” as well as to keep their commitment of providing students with five days a week of in-person instruction this school year.
School Board member Megan McLaughlin told WTOP she supports Superintendent Scott Brabrand’s decision.
“I also support and appreciate that he’s providing the alternative of routine negative testing from those employees who are not going to be vaccinated,” McLaughlin said.
McLaughlin, who represents the Braddock District, said it’s widely known that “the most effective way to curb and prevent the COVID virus is vaccinations,” and that it’s key to ensuring students receive five days of in-person learning a week.
“And we know that the most optimal way to educate students is in the classroom, then we need to utilize every strategy possible to keep our students and employees safe,” McLaughlin said.
School Board member Karl Frisch, who represents the Providence District, also backs the decision, pointing to the science.
“If you listen to the doctors, if you listen to the scientists, if you listen to the public health experts, they will tell you the single most important thing we can do to end this pandemic is get vaccinated,” Frisch said. “That will have a tremendous impact in our schools and it will have a tremendous impact in our communities and that is something that is on each and every one of us. If you are eligible, get your shot.”
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