Data: 4.3% of Hillsboro School District workers unvaccinated
A week before workers in Oregon schools are required to be fully vaccinated, the Hillsboro School District says 94.6% of its staff have submitted proof of full vaccination.
The data were made available through a dashboard that launched Monday, Oct. 11, showing the number and location of active COVID-19 cases and quarantines for students and staff as well as information about vaccine uptake.
Several other nearby school districts, including those in Beaverton and Portland, made such dashboards available last month.
Of about 2,600, teachers and other staff, a handful of workers (0.6%) were expected to become fully vaccinated by the Oct. 18 deadline imposed when Gov. Kate Brown announced the order in August.
About 110 workers, or 4.3%, have requested to remain unvaccinated by submitting a medical or religious exception form, sometimes called an "exemption," according to the dashboard.
Those requesting medical exceptions had to have a medical provider sign a document certifying that an impairment limits the person's ability to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
People requesting religious exceptions had to fill out a document describing how receiving the vaccine would conflict with the observance or practice of their religion or a "sincerely held belief."
Additionally, as of Wednesday, Oct. 6 — the deadline for staff to respond to a district survey allowing them to show proof of vaccination or submit an exception form — 0.5% of staff told the district they would be fully vaccinated after the Oct. 18 deadline, said Beth Graser, spokesperson for the district.
Graser said the data wouldn't be final until closer to Oct. 18, adding that district officials would be reaching out to staff who didn't respond to the survey directly.
A message to staff from district officials last month said "employment will not be available after October 17" for staff who are unable to meet the Oct. 18 deadline.
People who are expected to become fully vaccinated after Oct. 18 will be able to keep their jobs, Graser said Monday, but they will be required to either use personal leave or unpaid leave after that date until they are two weeks past full vaccination.
She said the next step for people who have submitted an exception request form will be to meet with the district's risk manager, Leah McCarthy, and their supervisor.
"The purpose of that meeting is really just to make sure everyone understands the additional mitigation measures that will be required of staff requesting the exception," Graser said. "The employee needs to sign off on those measures, acknowledging their commitment to following them, and the supervisor needs to understand what limitations there may be to how that staff member can be assigned/interact with students, etc."
Staff with approved exceptions will need to answer daily health questions, submit to weekly COVID-19 testing, wear a well-fitted N95 or KN95 mask at all times, follow increased social distancing measures, eat and drink in spaces away from others, use Plexiglass or other barriers if they use shared spaces, or have their position changed to minimize risk to employee and others, Graser said, adding that other measures might be required in certain circumstances.
"There really isn't a basis for denying the requests, unless there is an unwillingness to comply with the additional mitigation measures or other extenuating circumstances," Graser said.
As the deadline to be vaccinated approaches, 16 students and nine staff in the district are isolating after having tested positive for COVID-19 or being a presumptive case, meaning they had symptoms of the illness or had close contact with a confirmed case in the past 14 days, according to the dashboard.
Additionally, 144 students were quarantined due to having close contact with a positive or presumptive case of COVID-19.
Most of the students quarantining were in elementary schools, with young students not yet eligible to receive the vaccine.
The school with the largest number of students impacted by COVID-19 was L.C. Tobias Elementary School, where there are currently 22 students quarantined and two students isolated.
By comparison, the Beaverton School District, which has more than double the number of students are that of Hillsboro, had 804 students quarantined as of Oct. 6, the district's dashboard shows.
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