Gov. Kate Brown requiring teachers, school staff and health care workers to be vaccinated

SALEM, Ore. – Gov. Kate Brown mandating the COVID-19 vaccine for all health care and K-12 educators, staff, and volunteers. The announcement came Thursday. The rule goes into effect in mid-October or 6 weeks after the vaccines get full FDA approval, whichever is later.

With school districts like Medford only days away from beginning a new school year there’s a new rule they have to follow.

“I’m directing the Oregon Health Authority to issue a rule requiring, all teachers, educators, support staff, and volunteers in k-12 schools to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19,” said Gov. Kate Brown.

Here’s what we know.

– All teachers, educators, support staff, and volunteers in k through 12 schools are required to have the covid-19 vaccine.

– They have until October 18th or 6 weeks after the FDA fully approves of the vaccine, whichever is later.

– Exemptions may include religion and medical.

“We don’t exactly know what we need to wrap our minds around yet,” said Medford School District’s Superintendent Bret Champion.

The decision is making school districts’ jobs a bit more complicated, at least initially, as its employees venture for more information.

“We’re gonna follow the rules and be a great place to work, to work with our employees about what next steps look like and how that’s going to work,” said Superintendent Champion.

How this will play out for teachers is up in the air.

“I have to ask everybody, but I can predict we’ll be split like we are on every covid issues,” said Troy Pomeroy, President of the Medford Education Association. The teachers union represents 800 teachers in the Medford area.

“Our stance will be to support everybody no matter where they’re at in this,” said Pomeroy.

While our community may still be divided on this issue, Pomeroy said teachers will always come together for their students.

“We’re so glad to have kids in person. Please don’t change that. If we have to wear masks we’re fine, maybe if we have to get vaccinated. But please don’t make us go back online because it’s not good for kids,” said Pomeroy.

During Thursday’s press conference, the Oregon Department of Education made it clear their priority is to keep an in-person learning model this year. If a school district refuses to enforce the new rule, the ODE said the state can issue civil penalties.

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Katie Streit
NBC5 News reporter Katie Streit comes from her hometown, Las Vegas. Katie went to the Hank Greenspun School of Journalism & Media Studies at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. While in Las Vegas, Katie won a Student Emmy for her coverage of the Las Vegas Shooting Anniversary. She also hosted and produced the university's political news show, where she interviewed Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak and Congresswoman Dina Titus (NV-1). Her passion for politics turned into a coveted internship at the US Capitol in Washington D.C. In her final months working in the Las Vegas area, she was recognized for her journalism achievements by the Nevada Broadcaster's Foundation. Katie is excited to tell the stories of local Southern Oregonians and Northern Californians. Feel free to contact her at [email protected]