School board approves staff COVID-19 mitigation plan

School board approves staff COVID-19 mitigation planBy Patricia Farris

News Review Publisher In a discussion with Sierra Sands Unified School District (SSUSD) Superintendent Dr. David Ostash, this week. Ostash stated the position of the SSUSD board regarding the COVID mandates by the state. “We will meet individually with staff members we are hoping not to lose anyone, we have seen across the nation that there is shortage, we can’t afford to lose any. In Sierra Sands, we have been so determined to maintain our focus on serving students. With respect to COVID mandates we always maintain a position of being in compliance, no more and no less. Throughout the pandemic, it is important that our community be able to look upon Sierra Sands as a reliable, professional and safe institution whose sole priority is to maintain the best educational opportunity for all our students - and the best opportunity exists when our schools are open for in-person learning.”

“Ostash also states, “We are currently navigating the recent implementation of the vaccine mandate for staff. The mandate allows for staff who do not prefer to be vaccinated, to be tested weekly. Given an absolute and vital importance of our staff, we hope that 100% of our staff will either be vaccinated, or agree to the weekly testing protocol as defined by the state.”

At the recent school board meeting on Thursday October 14, the board approved a policy for a COVID mitigation plan.

Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources Brian Auld told the board that the State Public Health Officer and Director Thomas J. Aragon issued a health order August 11 that applies to entities such as public and private schools serving students and transitional Kindergarten through 12th grade. “ This health order requires all public school districts to verify the vaccine status of all their workers,” said Auld. “In addition, workers who are not vaccinated or who choose not to divulge their vaccination status, will be required to test for COVID-19 at least once a week.”

The order was to be fully implemented by October 15 he said.

Board Policy 0470, COVID-19 Mitigation Plan is a new policy which gives specific guidance regarding the process used to collect vaccination records and how unvaccinated employees, including those who refuse to provide their vaccination status, will be tested weekly.

“Regarding the collection of vaccination records, the district’s Human Resources Department will make confidential inquiries to employees of personal management,” said Auld.

“If an employee indicates that they are fully vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus, the district will request a copy of the employee’s vaccination record. If an employee indicates they have not been vaccinated, the district will maintain a record of this information and they will not asked any additional questions by the district, including why they have not received a vaccine.

“Information collected on an employee’s vaccination status will be a confidential medical record of the employee, separate and apart from the employee’s personnel file,” said Auld.

He said testing will be provided at no charge to all employees who are not fully vaccinated and those who refuse to disclose their vaccination status during their regular work hours and work site.

“The August 11 health mandate will remain active until the order is withdrawn or a new order is adopted,” he said.

“Based on the Governor’s October 1 public address, it appears the testing requirement will be eliminated and all non-exempt staff must be vaccinated on either January 1 or July 1, 2022, which ever comes first following the FDA’s approval of the vaccines for those who are 12-17 years old.”

There were comments from the public who stated that they oppose the policy that has been approved by the board.

Story First Published: 2021-10-29