As a Monday deadline passed for Baltimore City Public Schools employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19, more than 10% of its workforce has yet to comply.
Baltimore city schools, the region’s first school system to institute a vaccination mandate, will begin enforcing the mandate, including terminating employees who don’t get the inoculations or request and receive an exemption by early December, according to Andre Riley, a spokesman for the system.
As of Oct. 28th, the latest date for which numbers are available, 87% of the school system’s employees are vaccinated, although the percentages rise for school-based, professional staff. Some 97% of principals and 90% of teachers are vaccinated.
The system has about 10,000 employees total, including 5,200 teachers. After announcing the mandatory vaccination requirement six weeks ago, about 1,200 additional employees got the shots, Riley said.
“Today, if you have not applied for an exemption or notified the Office of Human Capital of your intention, they will make several attempts and ask if you intend to comply,” Riley said.
By the end of this week, school officials expect to have more exact figures on how many employees have sought an exemption for medical or religious reasons.
Riley said the school system will begin implementing increasingly serious disciplinary actions ending in a termination for employees who fail to get the shot or an exemption. School officials aren’t anticipating many teachers will resign or be forced to leave because they refused to comply.
Other school systems in the region have set deadlines for their employees to be vaccinated or submit to weekly testing, including Anne Arundel, Baltimore and Howard counties. Baltimore City already has the requirement in place because it has been testing all students and faculty in the building each week since early in the school year.
The largest school systems, located in the central area of the state, have imposed more requirements for vaccination than rural areas. Nineteen of 24 school systems in the state don’t have a vaccination requirement for the staff or educators.
The school systems in Baltimore City and Howard and Prince George’s counties have the highest vaccination rates in the state, all above 87%, according to data from the Maryland State Department of Education.