Sunnyside School District staff laid out their COVID-19 protocols for exemptions to Governor Inslee’s mandate requiring vaccinations.

Staff also announced the accommodations that will be asked of those who choose to not get the vaccine.

At a Board work session, HR Director Kris Diddens said 64% of district staff are currently fully vaccinated while another 17% said they are in the process of getting it, or plan to get it.

Of the remaining, 11% have said they will ask for an exemption, the vast majority of which is a religious one and Diddens says one substitute teacher will end their employment.

Some of the Board members raised concerns about the accommodations, something Diddens says they can take back at any time, but “We’re taking measures compared to protect the health and safety of our staff and students.”

Board President Michelle Perry says that some of the accommodations, stronger masks, limited separation of staff, could “Single out the unvaccinated and set them up for harassment.”

Sandra Linde expressed disappointment that the accommodations were made without Board involvement.

Diddens said the measures were not taken light and that they, “Have to consider both vaccinated and unvaccinated people,” and their safety.

She also noted that outside of the one employee, it’s unclear how many they’ll lose but they are, “Confident we will find a way for most people.”

According to the Yakima County Health District, 20% of the COVID-19 case rate has been among school-aged kids, but Sunnyside Schools is trying to keep more local numbers on a weekly basis.

The accommodations set by the district include: use of an N95 or KN95 mask, continued personal hygiene and physical distancing in classrooms or offices, weekly testing and limited access to areas of the building when masks won’t be worn, i.e. lunch rooms or cafeterias.

Kevin Rounce can be reached at 509-837-4500 ext 110 or email krounce@sunnysidesun.com

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