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The School District of Philadelphia announced its latest staff vaccination numbers on Oct. 20, 2021. Photo: Getty Images.
The School District of Philadelphia announced its latest staff vaccination numbers on Oct. 20, 2021. Photo: Getty Images.

More than 80% of Philly School District employees are vaccinated in latest data

The school board voted in favor of a vaccine mandate for staff back on Aug. 24.

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In a release from the School District of Philadelphia on Oct. 20, it was announced that 81% of staff — approximately 15,500 employees — are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19. 

The new numbers come just under two months after the Philadelphia School Board voted in favor of mandating vaccines for all employees on Aug. 24, which was viewed as a way to increase safety across the district’s 339 schools and additional workspaces.

“The science is clear that vaccines provide another layer of protection for all of us and our staff are doing their part to protect the health and wellbeing of themselves, the students we serve and everyone who enters our schools and offices,” said Superintendent Dr. William Hite in the release.

Those fully vaccinated employees will still be required to undergo one weekly COVID-19 test, but it is less frequent than those partially or unvaccinated, which are required to take two per week.

All employees were required to submit their vaccine status to the district by Sept. 30.

Of all the reported employee data, approximately 12% of staff have reported as unvaccinated. In the event they become sick with COVID, those staff members are no longer eligible for the district’s 10-day Direct Quarantine Leave program, which offers up to 10 days of regular paid leave in the event of COVID-19 diagnosis or potential exposure.

Staff hired after Oct. 1 must now also be fully vaccinated.

The national school vaccination outlook

In the grand scheme of vaccine mandates across the state, it is up to individual school districts to make the call, as Pennsylvania itself does not have an official mandate. 

Philadelphia’s school board voted for its staff vaccination requirement on Aug. 24, and bigger city school districts, like Pittsburgh and Lancaster, quickly followed in September. In the Philadelphia area, Upper Merion School District predated the city in its own vaccination mandate for staff.

Around the country, New York State, New Jersey, Delaware, Connecticut, Washington D.C., Illinois, New Mexico, Washington, Oregon and Hawaii all have vaccination mandates in place for all school employees. 

Places like Denver also operate similarly to Philadelphia, in that the city requires vaccines for its schools while the wider state does not.

California is the only state in the country to require COVID-19 vaccination for both staff and students.

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