Chicago Public Schools to Require COVID-19 Vaccination for All Employees
13 August 2021
Measure Will Provide Additional Protection Against the Spread of COVID-19; All Board Employees will be Required to Submit Proof of COVID-19 Vaccination Unless They Qualify for a Medical or Religious Exemption
CHICAGO – As the district prepares to welcome students back to school full-time in-person on Monday, August 30, Chicago Public Schools today announced that it would require all Board of Education employees — which includes school-based teachers and staff, central office, regular vendors and network employees, and all other Board employees — to receive the COVID-19 vaccine unless they qualify for a medical or religious exemption. This measure will help protect students and staff as we welcome back students full-time for the 2021-22 school year.
“Our Chicago Public School communities deserve a safe and healthy environment that will allow our students to reach their greatest potential,” said Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot. “This new policy enhances the district’s comprehensive reopening plan and ensures that students and staff can confidently learn in-person. Taking this step will further our citywide vaccination efforts and build on our progress in slowing and stopping the spread of COVID-19.”
“The science is clear: higher populations of vaccinated people means better health outcomes in communities, safer places of work and public spaces,” said Interim CPS CEO Dr. José M. Torres. “This is the right move for the greater good of our school communities and will help ensure we have a successful and healthy school year starting on Monday, August 30.”
As part of this policy, all Board staff will need to submit proof of full vaccination by October 15, 2021, unless they have an approved religious or medical exemption. Employees who have not previously reported to the district that they are fully vaccinated must be tested once a week at a minimum until October 15 or until proof of vaccination is submitted. Testing will continue throughout the school year for staff with a documented exemption. According to available data, 78 percent of all CPS employees are fully vaccinated, partially vaccinated, or had a vaccination scheduled as of June, while 67 percent reported being fully vaccinated. This data includes individuals who have reported their status to the district and CPS site vaccination data, and it may not tell a complete picture.
“As I have said all along, the best way to protect yourself, your family, and your community from COVID-19 is to get vaccinated. The vaccine is safe, effective, and anyone 12 and older can get it for free in Chicago,” said Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Allison Arwady, M.D. “For the social and emotional well-being of our young people, they need to be in school, and the vaccine adds another layer of protection to our plan to safely re-open schools.”
Consistent with other vaccination requirements, exemptions for employees with a medical condition or sincerely held religious beliefs will be available upon submission of proper documentation. Employees without an approved medical or religious exemption who are not fully vaccinated by October 15, 2021, will be ineligible to work until they are fully vaccinated and provide confirmation of vaccination to CPS.
Eligible individuals receiving the vaccine remain the strongest possible measure we can take to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Last February, the district launched standing school-based vaccination sites for employees and provided nearly 20,000 vaccine doses to employees. In July, the district launched its comprehensive student vaccination strategy which includes three school-based vaccination sites and additional vaccination opportunities at high-volume events, such as select Back-to-School Bashes. The district has administered over 850 doses through its family and student vaccination sites and events, and will continue to provide vaccination to all students, families, and staff over the age of 12.
The district also encourages families and employees to review the city’s calendar of COVID-19 vaccination events, which is separated by region and updated regularly, to find additional vaccination opportunities that are convenient for them. Employees and families are also encouraged to speak with their physicians to determine if vaccines are available through their provider.
For more information about the district’s current and future efforts to vaccinate its staff, students and families, please visit cps.edu/vaccinations.
Chicago Public Schools serves 341,000 students in 638 schools. It is the nation’s third-largest school district.