The Clarke County school board in Athens considered a similar proposal last month, but voted against submitting the policy for public comment, The Athens Banner-Herald reported.
Decatur schools spokeswoman Courtney Burnett said about three quarters of the employees who did not meet the Oct. 31 deadline for vaccination obtained medical or religious exemptions. The rest were given what she called “personal” exemptions.
“We always said that if you were not vaccinating for medical, religious or personal reasons you would be subject to additional protocols. We are working with these 10 employees on the additional protocols this week,” she said in a written response to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution about the personal exemptions. (Medical and religious exemptions are a standard opt-out for vaccine mandates.)
Unvaccinated staff must participate in a weekly testing program and are asked to double mask, she said.
As of Tuesday afternoon, Burnett could not say how many of the unvaccinated employees were teachers or other staff who come into contact with students. She said the district was still sorting the data on that.
Of the 776 fully vaccinated employees, 72% are certified staff and building administrators and 28% are classified as support staff.
As with the rest of Georgia, infection counts have plummeted, falling precipitously in the Decatur schools after mid-September, when the system shut down for fall break. Even during the peak of the fall outbreak, the system’s numbers were relatively low, typically hovering around a dozen cases per week, with a couple of spikes above that. The district has about 5,600 students.
The city is near the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and is home to many agency employees. Last month, Dr. Nancy Messonnier, who until last spring was director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, was named as a volunteer expert on the school system’s health advisory team.
Vaccination rates have been relatively high in the area. Last May, a local pediatrician held a rare mass vaccination event for local teenagers after vaccination was authorized for 12-to15-year-olds. Dr. Jane Wilkov said she will again team with the school system to offer another such clinic Thursday afternoon if the CDC, as expected, authorizes the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children aged 5-11.
Wilkov said in a text message Tuesday that she was busy scheduling 1,200 patients for shots and that the list was growing. She had at least as many older kids scheduled for her clinic’s spring event.