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.
“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.
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.”