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'Vax or Test': Beachwood City Schools considering COVID-19 vaccination or negative test requirement for staff

The proposal will be voted on at the district's next school board meeting on October 11.

BEACHWOOD, Ohio — As many school districts across Northeast Ohio continue to debate mask mandates in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, one superintendent is taking the next step of considering a vaccine requirement for staff.

Beachwood City Schools Superintendent Dr. Robert Hardis is seeking to require all staff members to either be vaccinated or be tested on a weekly basis. He made the announcement in a video that was posted on Friday.

The 'Vax or Test' proposal was presented to the Beachwood City School Board on Monday evening and will be voted on at the next meeting, set for October 11.

"The goals of this 'Vax or Test' plan is very simple," Dr. Hardis explained to the board during Monday's meeting. "The first is to help create the safest healthiest community we can possibly can. The second is to protect those around us who don't have the choice to get vaccinated."

But there's more.

Hardis also says students ages 16 and older will also be under the same rules if they want to participate in extracurricular activities like sports. The district says vaccine status will be kept private like other medical records. 

"Employees and students who are already vaccinated can simply submit a photo or scanned image of their vaccination card to our Human Resources department," explained Hardis. "It will be treated as a private medical record. It will be treated as such in our HR department."

The rule applies only to students age 16 and older because that’s the only age group where the Pfizer vaccine has received full approval. Students who don’t participate in extracurricular activities will continue to go to school with no requirement as they do today.

If the 'Vax or Test' plan is passed, students and employees will need to have at least the first dose of the vaccine by October 29.

The Cuyahoga County Board of Health has written this statement in response to the proposal by Dr. Hardis:

We support this proactive effort by Superintendent Hardis to encourage and maintain a safe and healthy environment for all members of the Beachwood school community. In public health, we know that vaccines are the most effective way to interrupt the spread of communicable diseases like Covid-19. Regular testing for those who are unvaccinated as well as the use of face coverings and adherence to social distancing guidelines are all effective strategies in reducing the spread of illness in congregate settings such as classrooms and extracurricular activities. These methods are also critical to the protection of those who are unable to receive vaccine at this time, whether due to age or pre-existing medical conditions. Our hope is that other school districts will implement similar initiatives to protect their staff, students and families.

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