Santa Fe educators call for vaccine mandate | Education

The local teachers union is calling for Santa Fe Public Schools to make COVID-19 vaccines mandatory.

National Education Association-Santa Fe supports a vaccine mandate for all staff, including contractors, as well as students over the age of 12, union President Grace Mayer told the Santa Fe school board Thursday.

The union also would like to see weekly mandatory tests for children under 12, who are not yet eligible for the vaccine. Superintendent Hilario “Larry” Chavez has warned that implementing a vaccine mandate could have an impact on the district’s hiring efforts.

While 93 percent of district staff are vaccinated, those percentages are slightly lower when it comes to teachers in classrooms.

Just over 88 percent of high school teachers were fully vaccinated as of Thursday and nearly 93 percent of preschool and elementary teachers were inoculated.

Through Aug. 27, 60 students and eight staff were contagious with COVID-19 while on campus since the school year started.

That’s less than 1 percent of enrollment districtwide, and just two of those cases originated from within the district, said Anita Hett, the district’s lead nurse.

“What we’re finding is that it’s coming from within the community,” she said. “At this point in time, the spread rate seems very, very low.”

The district has applied to become a COVID-19 test site, which could speed up any delays parents and students experience in getting tested for COVID-19 after a close contact, Chavez said.

The Public Education Department released updated guidelines Thursday for COVID-19 safety in schools, clarifying that vaccine status does not affect social-distancing requirements among students.

In other news, the school board appointed Sascha Guinn Anderson to fill the term of Lorraine Price, who died last month at the age of 72.

Anderson, whose children are enrolled in the district, is the spokeswoman for Mayor Alan Webber’s reelection campaign.

People living in District 5, which Price represented, will still vote to elect a school board member in November, but Anderson is the only person who filed paperwork to appear on the ballot.

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