Vaccinating Teachers and Students

Oregon School Vaccination Requirements for Teachers and Students

Lillian Dolph and Sophia Ruger, Staff Reporters

Because teachers are required to be fully vaccinated for the Coronavirus by Oct. 18, which includes the two week immunization period, parents and students are eager to know what is in store for the school year regarding COVID-19. 

If school staff members refuse to get vaccinated they could lose their job, and in the future unvaccinated individuals may not be hired to work in school facilities. As of Oct. 18, LOSD schools have a 98.6% full vacinnation rate, which means that 1021 people are fully vaccinated, with the remaining 15 individuals (1.4%) qualifying for an exemption, according to the LOSD online covid dashboard.

According to Jennifer DeVine, the Lake Oswego School District Nurse, the teacher vaccination mandate also has a positive effect on students. 

“From a nursing standpoint, I would say the teacher mandate will help protect the students,” DeVine said. “Our teachers come in contact with so many students each day. If all of our teachers are vaccinated, they will be less likely to catch and spread the virus.” 

“From a biological standpoint I am in support of it,” said Matthew Briggs, an AP Biology teacher at Lakeridge High School, about the vaccination mandate for teachers. When asked if he recommends the vaccine, Briggs notes people should consult their doctor and get educated on the science of the vaccine. 

While there is a requirement for all educators and volunteers in K-12 Oregon schools to be vaccinated by Oct. 18, there are medical and religious exemptions for individuals who apply. 

A religious exception must be supported by a form from the Oregon Health Authority that an individual must sign stating that they hold a religious belief that prevents them from getting the vaccine. 

A medical exception needs to be supported by an Oregon Health Authority document signed by a medical provider that states that an individual cannot receive a COVID-19 vaccine because of a specified medical diagnosis.  

Desiree Fisher, principal at Lakeridge High School, explained that if a teacher qualifies for these exemptions, they must agree to get COVID-19 tested every week, and be fully masked at all times if they are around anyone else.  

Governor Kate Brown issued a statewide mask mandate for all K-12 schools for the 21-22 school year in order to maintain a lower level of COVID-19 infections. The State of Oregon also required vaccination for teachers, and this mandate has seen an increase in protests against vaccinations among teachers in various districts across Oregon. 

Upon reentry to K-12 schools this fall, parents and students are interested to know how COVID-19 will impact the public school experience. Families shouldn’t anticipate a requirement for their kids ages 12-18 to be vaccinated upon entry, however, universities can enforce vaccination for their students. 

Lake Oswego has a 92.5% vaccination rate for students 12-18 as of July 2021, but the state of Oregon has an average vaccination rate of about 60%. The LOSD staff has a 98.4% vaccination rate.