Barrington joins school districts requiring teacher vaccines

Coronavirus vaccine. Photo courtesy U.S. Air National Guard

BARRINGTON, R.I. (AP) — Another Rhode Island school district is requiring teachers and staff to get coronavirus vaccinations or face unpaid leave and possible termination.

Employees of Barrington’s schools have until Nov. 1 to get vaccinated, Superintendent Michael Messore told The Providence Journal.

Barrington joins West Warwick and Newport with a mandatory vaccination policy for faculty and staff, according to the state Department of Education. The Achievement First charter schools and the Rhode Island School for the Deaf also have mandates. Blackstone Valley Prep charter schools are requiring vaccination of new employees.

Five or six teachers have indicated a reluctance to be vaccinated, but they can apply for a medical exemption, Messore said. Nearly 90% of the district’s more than 400 full-time employees have been vaccinated so far.

School Committee Chair Gina Bae said the move was made to protect children under 12 who remain ineligible for a vaccine.

If an exemption request is denied, the worker has the right to appeal. If the appeal is turned down, they will be placed on leave. If they refuse to be vaccinated, they will be fired after Dec. 31.

A spokesperson for the National Education Association Rhode Island teachers’ union said it is ready to advise members seeking an exemption.