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Concerns over Clark County School District vaccine mandate implementation

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Posted at 4:40 PM, Sep 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-02 21:41:05-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — The approval of a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for Clark County School District employees has some wondering, “So what comes next?”

CCSD trustees approved the mandate after a marathon special meeting that began Wednesday evening and drew hours of public comment. Now, some are concerned about the consequences of the decision and what’s being done to address them.

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“The mandate, they have the authority to do. So, I wasn’t surprised that that was going to occur.”

John Vellardita, executive director of the Clark County Education Association, is raising concerns about the mandate's implementation, saying it could lead to a number of teacher resignations.

“That’s a very important question because of the significant critical shortage that we have in a number of positions,” he said.

With about 800 classroom vacancies, Vellardita says he has yet to see district administrators have plans in place to address possible consequences.

District staff mentioned having religious and medical exemptions in the mandate but didn’t define them.

“I don’t know what the definition of religious exemption is. There were some broad statements made, so we’ll have to see,” he said.

Vellardita says a recent survey of about 9,000 union members revealed about a thousand would walk out if there was a mandate. He says the union wants to bargain with the district on some workaround solutions.

“I don’t want, if it’s at all possible, to have one single educator having to end their career because of this vaccine,” he said.

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One possible area of compromise could involve distance learning, with more students choosing that option.

“That requires educators," said Vellardita. "Is it possible for educators who don’t want to be in a classroom because of vaccination, can they do distance learning?”

He says the mandate may get more teachers vaccinated—and they’re encouraging the shot to help with public health. Vellardita says the discussion over vaccine mandates can’t be narrow and needs to expand to address unintended consequences.

“We don’t want to create the opposite where we have not enough staff and we’re overcrowded in these classrooms,” he said.

CCSD says district staff will begin drafting the language of the mandate and negotiate with unions on an agreement. A timeline on when this all happens has not been set yet.