NORTHAMPTON, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- Western Mass News is your School Authority.
A COVID-19 vaccine mandate is now in place for all public school teachers and staff in Northampton following a unanimous school committee vote Thursday night.
This making the district one of the first in the state to adopt this policy.
The school’s superintendent tells us the vote passed with much support, and some community members speaking in favor of the policy during the meeting, all teachers and staff will be required to be vaccinated by October 22.
We did reach out to the Massachusetts Teachers Association, whose president said this was the right call as COVID-19 cases continue to increase.
“There were no individuals who spoke in public against the vaccine mandate,” Northampton Public Schools Superintendent John Provost said.
The Northampton School Committee taking a big step to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus within classrooms.
On Thursday night, the committee voted unanimously to mandate the COVID-19 vaccine for public school teachers and staff.
“We feel in this moment, with the Delta variant, this is the right decision to make,” MTA President Merrie Najimy said.
The Massachusetts Teachers Association which works with the Northampton Association of School Employees said they are in support of the new vaccine policy.
“So the MTA Board of Directors in August took a vote 46 to 4 to support requiring vaccinations of all school employees and eligible children,” Najimy said.
All school employees will be required to have their shots by October 22.
“That date was selected to allow for a two-dose regimen if staff are either getting Pfizer or Moderna,” Provost said.
Western Mass News asked Provost if a vaccine mandate could be next for students. He said he is awaiting guidance from state health officials.
“My belief is that the Department of Public Health is the authority that issues a mandate for students. They are the agency that provides, that identifies the other required vaccines for other schools,” Provost explained.
There are vaccine exemptions allowed for medical and religious reasons. Meanwhile, the superintendent said the school committee is also updating its mask policy to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. The most notable difference is children will now have to be masked during recess.