Henry County Schools to pay staffers $1,000 for getting vaccinated

Henry County school leaders say they will give $1,000 to staffers who have already been vaccinated or who plan to get shots against COVID-19 by the end of September.

The district is using the incentive to get its 6,000 employees inoculated in an attempt to “reduce the number of interruptions and shifts in instruction and learning,” leaders said in a press release.

The money, a one-time payment, will be taken from federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds, which have been set aside for coronavirus mitigation, the school system said.

“Last year was a challenge like no other for our students and our staff members as we were constantly having to adjust to the presence and possibilities of COVID-19 on our campuses,” Henry Superintendent Mary Elizabeth Davis said. “Our students and our families deserve and expect predictability and stability in their learning, and keeping our buildings open and supporting our employees’ health are paramount to these efforts.”

The district said COVID-19 infections are costly for school systems. For instance, infected teachers can be away from the classroom for as many as 10 days when quarantined. That can lead to the need for substitutes, who can cost a school system more than $8,000 in pay per quarantine.

To receive the $1,000 incentive, staffers will have to provide proof that they have been fully vaccinated by one of the three providers -- Johnson & Johnson, Moderna or Pfizer. Johnson & Johnson requires only one shot, while Pfizer and Moderna require two.

“As a district, we are doing everything we can to ensure a safe and responsible opening to schools and a consistent in-person learning experience for students,” Davis said. “The best investment in young people at this moment is to ensure a healthy workforce.”