MCPS staff and winter and spring student athletes must submit verification of full vaccination in the upcoming weeks
On Sept. 9, the Montgomery County Board of Education passed a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for all Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) staff. According to the mandate, all staff must show verification of receiving the first COVID-19 shot by Sept. 30. By Oct. 29, all staff must show verification of full vaccination.
MCPS currently follows the CDC's definition for "fully vaccinated," which is defined as two weeks after the second dose of a two-dose vaccine, or two weeks after a dose of a single-dose vaccine.
Staff members may be exempted from the vaccine requirement due to medical reasons, and employees who are not yet fully vaccinated are still required to complete weekly COVID-19 tests.
The Board of Education also passed a vaccination requirement for all winter and spring student athletes. Students who wish to register, try out, and participate in winter and spring sports must submit proof of full vaccination by Nov. 15.
Darryl Cooper, the security team leader at Blair, was already vaccinated before the mandate was passed. He views the vaccine mandate as an essential step in keeping Blair's staff safe. "With the amount of people we're going to contact working here— and of course, it's going to transfer to our personal lives— we should definitely be vaccinated," Cooper said.
For Cooper, the higher the number of people vaccinated, the better. "The more the merrier, as far as vaccination goes," Cooper said.
Jay Baucom, a building services worker at Blair, shared Cooper's view of the mandate. "I think it's a good idea that they came up with the [vaccine], because it helps everybody… people won't die and people won't be going to the hospital," Baucom explained.
Rebecca Huges, a social studies teacher at Blair, expressed a different perspective about the vaccine mandate. For Hughes, there is a concern about the vaccine in general. "I would not have gotten vaccinated if it wasn't required… I believe in science, but I'm a little apprehensive about big pharmaceuticals," Hughes explained.
Hughes also did not believe that there should be a vaccine requirement for winter and spring sport athletes. "I don't think that it's fair to ask students to make a decision [between] something that is required of them to do, and something that they are passionate about and love, simply for a vaccine that we don't know the long term effects of. I think it puts kids in an awkward situation," Hughes explained.
Jacqueline Armstead-Thomas, an art teacher at Blair who also coaches spring volleyball, did not believe that the mandate would have a significant effect on student participation in school sports. "This year is a bit of a renaissance. I feel like there's a lot of school spirit, there's a lot of students who want to get involved, and I definitely feel like students will come out for sports because they want to be involved in something, and not necessarily because they feel safer," Armstead-Thomas explained.
However, Armstead-Thomas still viewed both vaccine mandates as positive things that will keep students and staff safe throughout the year. "Whatever we can do to stay in school and to take care of ourselves as staff and as a school, and to take care of our students, I think is just positive. [I] am willing to do whatever it takes to keep me and my students, and to stay in school all year," Armstead-Thomas said.
Kathereen Yang. hi! My name is Kathereen and I'm a junior writer. I enjoy reading and running, and I'm currently trying to figure out how to make pizza (without burning it). More »