BURLINGTON - The School Committee recently took the first steps in formalizing a requirement of all school staff members to be vaccinated for COVID-19.

No official policy has been finalized, but it is expected to be sometime in September, wherein the School Committee will vote it into existence. An indoor mask mandate was put into effect by School Supt. Dr. Eric Conti on Aug. 7.

Dr. Conti emphasized that employees with health and/or religious exemptions will not be required to get vaccinated, but they will have to undergo weekly COVID-19 testing to ensure their classrooms full of students are safe. Any employee seeking exemption, will need to provide “serious documentation” such as a doctor’s note.

“Those not falling into the exempt category will be required to be vaccinated as a requirement of employment at Burlington Public Schools,” declared Dr. Conti at this week’s School Committee meeting. “Making this a requirement of employment is under the School Committee’s purview and right as a government body.”

The state is providing the necessary testing supplies and other resources, and will be covering the costs. This is allowing the school district to conduct a vaccine clinic for staff, students and parents at Burlington High School on Monday, Aug. 23. No specific time has been disclosed as of yet, but it will take place sometime that afternoon. Then, those individuals will be able to come back three weeks later and get their second vaccination.

The committee expressed firm backing of the vaccination employment requirement.

“I fully support a mandate that requires all staff be vaccinated, with medical and religious exemptions,” voiced member Christine Monaco. “I would like to see those not vaccinated get tested at least once a week.”

Committee Chair Thomas Murphy remarked that making these decisions are for the greater good which is to hopefully help in eradicating Massachusetts of COVID-19.

“Increasing the percentage of those vaccinated only helps our cause as a school district, town, and state,” he stated.

With no formal policy on the table, yet, Dr. Conti confirmed he will come back to the committee in September with a crafted policy, which will have to be supported by the district’s employees and Food and Drug Administration. Until then, the mask mandate for anyone inside any of the school buildings will be enforced. The policy will just formalize and solidify it. The first day of school in Burlington is Monday, Aug. 30.

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