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Hopewell requires teachers to get vaccinated or submit weekly test results

Published: Aug. 23, 2021 at 11:22 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 23, 2021 at 11:24 PM EDT
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HOPEWELL, Va. (WWBT) - A Central Virginia school district hit hard with COVID is taking action when it comes to getting its staff vaccinated. Hopewell school leaders voted Monday to urge educators to get the shot but stopped short of a vaccine mandate, which is what Richmond Public Schools created last week.

Hopewell is hoping its teachers will get vaccinated, but the district is providing options for those who choose not to.

Monday was the first day back to class after Hopewell’s schools were forced to shut down Friday. There were not enough staff able to report to work. Since school started a month ago, there have been 85 COVID cases.

“A lot of people just don’t believe it but it’s real,” said Rock Powell. He is watching things closely. Monday, he learned of the big decision Hopewell leaders made regarding teachers and school staff. “I agree with that.”

The district says teachers who haven’t been vaccinated yet should do so by Sept. 6 and be fully vaccinated by Oct. 4. It even has a plan for booster shots.

“If and when that becomes available, and is recommended to all of us, that would be required as well,” Superintendent Dr. Melody Hackney said.

When schools closed Friday, Hopewell provided a district-wide testing event for staff. Of the 300 people tested, fewer than five tested positive. Hopewell is now hoping getting more teachers vaccinated can keep things under control.

“I think it should be pro-choice…It’s free will in this country,” parent Carl Ramsey said.

School leaders are giving staff another option. Those who don’t get vaccinated can submit weekly results of a lab test that show they are COVID-free.

“Just like we have the choice to send the kids to school. That’s our choice. I think the teachers should have their own choice,” Ramsey added.

“I don’t see anything wrong with that…I think some people not taking this thing seriously, so I think that’s a good one,” Powell said.

The COVID tests for teachers and staff will be free and offered on school grounds.

Hopewell is now planning another mass-testing event for students. It could happen by the end of the week.

Copyright 2021 WWBT. All rights reserved.

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