Staff at Medford, Phoenix-Talent schools largely on board with state vaccine mandate

SOUTHERN OREGON, —School districts and their employees, including teachers and other staff, are also dealing with the impact of the vaccine deadline Monday.

“The vast majority over 97% complied in one way or another,” said MSD Assistant Superintendent Brad Earl.

The Medford School District has over 1500 employees and says its staff is overwhelming on board with the state’s vaccine mandate or has an approved exemption by the October 18th deadline.

“We’re encouraged that the vast majority of our staff came forward and got vaccinated or applied for and received the exemption,” said Earl.

Assistant Superintendent Brad Earl says more than 1200 or 79% of its staff are fully vaccinated or in the process of doing so.

  • 283 or 18% have an approved exemption.
  • 4 have indicated they will not comply.
  • 30 failed to respond, making up 2%
  • 7 people are still in the process of resubmitting forms.

“We were cautiously optimistic going into this that our staff would step up for kids and comply with this,” said Earl.

Earl says the district is still strained with shortages related to transportation, substitute teachers, and educational assistants. But people with approved exemptions may see a change to their jobs.

” A fitted N95 mask is something the state gave us an example of something to be used, KN95 mask is very similar, double masking, a mask with a shield if you’re working directly with students,” said Earl.

That’s something Phoenix- Talent Superintendent, Brent Barry says his district is also dealing with, how that will work.

“We have an accommodations list that we’ve gone through obviously ensuring social distancing, double masking,  being very cognizant that meantime is a risk of exposure and being cognizant where staff eats its meals and there is a weekly testing option through the OHA,” said Barry.

Out of its 299 employees who need to either get vaccinated or get an approved exemption, Phoenix-Talent approved 4 medical and 18 religious exemptions. Two staff members began unpaid leave Monday.

“We’ve gone over this hurdle so we are in a good position moving forward,” said Barry.

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Jenna King is the 6pm and 11pm anchor for NBC5 News. Jenna is a Burbank, CA native. She graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in Broadcast Journalism and a minor in Sports Business. During her time at Oregon she was part of the student-run television station, Duck TV. She also grew her passion for sports through her internship with the PAC 12 Network. When Jenna is not in the newsroom you can find her rooting for her hometown Dodgers, exploring the outdoors or binging on the latest Netflix release.
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