A school district in Western Massachusetts is considering a COVID-19 vaccination mandate to go along with orders to wear facial coverings while in school buildings.
Officials in the Amherst-Pelham Regional School District are considering taking the extra step to provide extra protection against the spread of the virus by mandating faculty and staff members all get the COVID-19 vaccine.
The decision will now move forward to a special school committee vote.
Officials noted that if mandated, particular religious and health exemptions would have to be agreed upon between the school and its seven unions before moving forward.
According to school officials, the overall vaccination rate in the Amherst-Pelham district is already extremely high, so a mandate would have minimal effects on staff and faculty members.
Amherst’s mandate would only apply to the COVID-19 vaccines that have been fully approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) - Moderna and Pfizer - though the one-shot Johnson & Johnson is still only approved for emergency use by the FDA.
The mandate would make the Amherst-Pelham School District one of the first in the state to issue such an order, and could potentially encourage other districts to follow suit.
If the vaccine mandate is put in place, it is unclear when staff would be required to get their shots. It is also unclear what repercussions unvaccinated faculty members may face if they refuse to get the vaccination.
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