Montgomery County Public Schools has walked back its mandate for employees to either get a coronavirus vaccination or risk being fired, saying staffing is at critical levels.
County officials say that employees who haven’t been vaccinated or won’t reveal their status will now be allowed to get tested once a week “in order to meet operational demands,” WTOP reported.
Maryland’s largest school system originally instituted the mandate for its roughly 25,000 employees just after the start of the academic year, as the county was forced to quarantine hundreds of students amid COVID-19 outbreaks.
MCPS said in a statement that the shift in tone was partially based on more adults now being vaccinated and the recent expansion of vaccine eligibility to children 5 and older, WTOP reported.
But the Bethesda Beat, which first reported the policy change, cited an MCPS spokesperson who said the system couldn’t afford to fire that many workers at this point.
As of Friday, the county said 570 employees have declined to disclose their vaccination status while another 600 said they weren’t vaccinated — equaling about 5% of the school system’s workforce, WTOP reported.