ATLANTIC — The Atlantic Community School Board, like other districts in the area, has a special meeting planned on Monday, Jan. 10, related to the federal government’s mandate requiring employers with 100 or more employees to ensure their employees are vaccinated or submit proof of a negative COVID-19 test every seven days.
While the future of the mandate isn’t clear — the Supreme Court was considering the issue on Friday, they are set to go into place on Monday, Jan. 10, and school districts are making sure they were ready to go, either way.
Steve Barber, Atlantic Community Schools Superintendent, said the board had started discussions last year.
“We discussed the policy at the last board meeting in December, and presented the forms at that time,” Barber said. “And we’ve scheduled a meeting at noon on Monday, (like many other districts), so we’ll be having the same conversation in Atlantic.”
In Griswold, Superintendent Dave Henrichs said the board adopted a policy that had been presented by the School Board Association.
Their policy says any employees who are not vaccinated by Monday will have to wear a face mask while at school, in the building and in district vehicles. Employees may also request a medical or religious exemption for any or all of the requirements — the vaccine, mask or tests — and must provide proof from their physician or clergy as to why they should be exempt.
Barber said Atlantic was also a member of that association, and a group called Policy Primers, “which provides guidance on different things, not only the vaccine and testing mandate.”
He said they had modified their policy a little from what was available, “and we will talk about those modifications on Monday.”
Barber said there were “significant” fines associated with not being in compliance with the rules, if they are upheld by the Supreme Court, adding, “It is a federal law, and we need to follow it, (if we want to continue) to get federal dollars.” He said he wasn’t sure how much the fines were, “We are still working through all the guidance.”
If the mandate remains in place, employees who don’t show proof of vaccination will be required to wear a mask unless they have a religious or medical exemption, and would also be required to provide proof of a negative test every seven days, starting on Feb. 9.
Barber said while some employees might have to wear masks, that wasn’t always an indication that the individual wasn’t vaccinated. Some might want to wear a mask as additional protection, “That has always been an option,” he said, “We’ve alway said if you want to wear a mask, we’ll provide the mask, whatever makes you feel more comfortable.”
Atlantic’s meeting is set for Monday at noon, at the district’s central office at 1406 Southwest Seventh Street, and it will be streamed on YouTube as well.
Henrichs said the board adopted the policy Thursday, and it would be re-evaluated if the Supreme Court places a stay on the mandate.