Monday marked the deadline for D.C. Public Schools (DCPS) staff members and teachers, as well as some student athletes, to be vaccinated against COVID-19. But a day later, the school system released data showing there are still many who haven't been vaccinated.
According to data provided by DCPS, 79% of all school staff are fully vaccinated. For teachers alone, that number rises to 85%.
"It's really important that we keep pushing to make sure more employees get vaccinated and they do so in a timely fashion," said D.C. Deputy Mayor John Falcicchio.
Teachers and staff who are not vaccinated will not face any discipline yet, Falcicchio said.
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The policy will be to contact those who are not vaccinated and encourage them to get the shots before they face any action.
"Our message to the workforce is that we really want you to understand the importance of getting vaccinated. We want you to comply with what we've laid out, and then if there is not compliance, we have to then talk about enforcement," Falcicchio said. "We don’t rush to enforcement in a way that will be disruptive to what happens in the classrooms or in the schools."
All D.C. Fire and EMS employees were mandated to be vaccinated more than a month ago. Just like school staff, hundreds remain unvaccinated, and none have faced any discipline. Just like firefighters, there are hundreds of teachers who have requested either medical or religious exemptions, and so far, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser's administration has not ruled on any of those requests.
As for the District’s mask mandate, Falcicchio is hopeful it could be relaxed if the daily number of new COVID-19 cases continues to go down. He said COVID-19 metrics have improved through October.
"We're looking to D.C. Health to give us a sense of when we think the mask mandate might be lifted," he said.
Falcicchio would not give a timeline or specific metrics for lifting D.C.'s mask mandate.
District officials told News4 that as long as an employee has a pending request for a religious or medical exemption, they will not be considered out of compliance for not being vaccinated.