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Harford County Public Schools may offer financial incentive for employees to get COVID vaccines

A financial incentive for Harford County Public Schools employees who have been fully vaccinated for COVID-19 will be considered at the county Board of Education’s first meeting of the year on Monday, according to the agenda on the district’s website.

In a report to be presented during the meeting, Superintendent Sean Bulson recommends that the board begin discussions with each bargaining unit within the school system to reach a memorandum of understanding.

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“Having a larger percentage of our staff vaccinated is critical to keeping our students in school by keeping a healthy staff at work,” the report reads. “Reducing staff quarantines will have a positive impact on our ability to continue to staff our buildings and provide a consistent instructional program.”

The incentive would be funded through “current year healthcare savings, healthcare settlement and/or restricted funds,” according to the agenda. Employees who are able to prove their vaccination status would be eligible for the incentive.

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The Harford County Education Association has advocated for such an incentive, according to HCEA President Chrystie Crawford-Smick. She said she also thinks this will help HCPS gather data on how many staffare vaccinated. This data could be useful in lifting the state’s in-school mask mandate; one of the state-approved “off ramps” for lifting the mandate locally would be if 80% percent of students and 80% of staff are fully vaccinated, according to Maryland Matters.

“We do not support a vaccine mandate, HCPS already has enough staffing issues to deal with,” Crawford-Smick said. “We have simply been asking for a mechanism to provide the district with the data and an incentive for voluntarily doing so.”

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