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Shawnee Mission School District delays talks of possible vaccine mandate for staff

 SMSD Workshop to Discuss Possible Mandate
Posted at 10:32 PM, Sep 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-13 23:45:45-04

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — Working in food service at the Shawnee Mission School District, Lisa Feingold interacts with whole lot of folks.

"If my coworkers were unvaccinated [in] the quarters that I work in, I would quit," Feingold said.

But knowing those closest around her are vaccinated gives Feingold some peace of mind.

"I like my job, I want to keep it, but my health is worth more than my hourly wage," she said.

To add another layer of COVID-19 safety, district leaders and the school board are in the early stages of considering a vaccine mandate for all staff.

Kari Ivie, a parent with three children in the district, is worried it would make some staff quit.

"I want us to get back to normal just like everybody else does," Ivies said. "But to force things on people. It's just not the answer. I know there's a lot of scary things going on right now but we just need to wait."

While President Joe Biden is requiring vaccines for federal workers, he doesn't have much say with it comes to K-12 schools overseen at the local level, which is why he's urging governors to require COVID-19 vaccinations for teachers and staff.

A district spokesperson says that at least 80% of district staff got vaccinated at clinics they held during the spring time.

However, that number is always influx, with more people possibly getting vaccinated over the summer and other employees leaving the district because of retirement or finding other jobs.

"We feel we feel good about it," David Smith, chief communications officer for SMSD said. "We obviously we need to get to 100%. And we need that in the broader communities."

A discussion of the pro and cons of the possible mandate was set to happen Monday evening but an emergency kept the school board president from attending, pushing the conversation down the road for a few weeks.

"I think the district is doing the right thing to keep us all safe, employed and keep kids in the buildings," Feingold said.

The board meets again Sept. 27 at 5:30 p.m.