CHICAGO - Chicago Public Schools announced Friday they will require all staff to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Oct. 15.
The third-largest school district in the nation is calling on all teachers, staff, vendors, board members and network employees to be fully vaccinated unless they qualify for a medical or religious exemption.
Students return to schools for full-time, in-person instruction on Aug. 30.
"Our Chicago Public School communities deserve a safe and healthy environment that will allow our students to reach their greatest potential," Mayor Lori Lightfoot in a statement. "This new policy enhances the district’s comprehensive reopening plan and ensures that students and staff can confidently learn in-person."
The district says currently 67 percent of CPS employees are fully vaccinated.
Employees who are not fully vaccinated will be tested at least once a week until Oct. 15 or until they've submitted proof of vaccination.
The Chicago Teachers Union and the principal of Michele Clark High School responded to this announcement Friday:
"I think we as leaders, need to lead. So we want to show our community that it's safe, that it's okay. That it's a part of what we do. So I think that it's, it's a great thing that as leaders we lead the way for our students," said Michele Clark High School Principal Charles Anderson.
"Just having a vaccine and saying well we're going to mandate for employees. It doesn't go far enough because there are a lot of other people in school buildings," said Jesse Sharkey, CTU President.
After Oct. 15, employees who are not fully vaccinated will be ineligible to work until they can show proof of full vaccination to CPS.