The Verona Area School District is not currently considering a COVID-19 vaccination mandate for its staff as it sees high rates of voluntary inoculation.
At the Verona Area Board of Education’s Monday, Oct. 18, meeting, superintendent Tremayne Clardy shared with board members that of the 630 staff members who had participated in a voluntary survey asking whether they were vaccinated against COVID-19 or not, 96.6% of respondents said they were. The response rate for the survey comes out to 78% of the district’s 800 staff members, public information officer Raechelle Belli told the Press in an email.
“The data reaffirms the commitment of our staff to being a pro-vaccination District,” Belli wrote in the email. “We are incredibly appreciative of our VASD staff for taking the necessary steps to keep our students and extended community safe.”
Of those staff that responded in the survey that they are vaccinated, 63.2% were teachers, which make up the majority of the staff population at each school level. Another 23.8% of respondents were hourly support staff, and the remaining 13% were other staff such as school or district administration.
The majority of respondents were located at elementary schools, with 43.5% of respondents identifying as K-5 staff. Another 18% work at middle schools and 26% are at the high school. The percentage of where the survey respondents said they worked closely aligns with the percentages of where staff work throughout the district that Belli provided.
Of the 2.8% of staff who responded to the survey that said they were unvaccinated against COVID-19, 0.8% said they were not vaccinated because of medical or religious reasons, and 2% said they hadn’t gotten a dose due to unspecified reasons.
Those that are unvaccinated break down into two district-wide employees, one being a teacher and another being an hourly support staff member; five elementary hourly support staff; two middle school teachers and one support staff member; four high school teachers; and four people who preferred not to answer.
Clardy told the board during a Sept. 13 meeting that district staff had been working with two unions that represent the district’s teachers and hourly support staff to put together a voluntary survey to ask about vaccination rates. The point of the survey was to understand how close the district was to achieving adult herd immunity within its staff and determine what strategies administration would use going forward to encourage staff to get vaccinated.
Two of the largest school districts in the state, Milwaukee Public Schools and Madison Metropolitan School District, have implemented vaccine mandates for their staff. Both Milwaukee and Madison Metropolitan employees must be vaccinated by Nov. 1 unless they qualify for a religious or medical exemption, and if they do not comply, they could be placed on unpaid leave or ultimately be fired, a Sept. 10 story from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel states.
The Verona Area School District had not previously asked for staff to submit their vaccination statuses, but is now working with the two unions to have staff fill out the survey.
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Verona Area School District’s decision to opt for universal masking means it will not be required by Public Health Madison and Dane County to quarantine students who considered close contacts.