Edmonds School District prepares for possible staff shortages due to vaccine mandate

With Gov. Jay Inslee’s deadline that all K-12 employees in the state be vaccinated against COVID-19 set for Oct. 18, the Edmonds School District is preparing for the possibility of fewer bus routes and hot meals for students if employees decide to quit rather than get the shot.

Last month, Inslee announced that all public, private and charter school employees must get vaccinated as a condition of their employment. The directive also applied to health care employees and state employees.

In the Edmonds School District, 65% of employees have completed the vaccine verification process or been approved for either a medical or religious exemption, which is allowed under the governor’s order. The district is already experiencing staffing shortages, particularly in transportation and food services, according to district spokesperson Harmony Weinberg.

“All departments could feel it if we don’t get to that 100% (vaccine) verification requirement by the governor,” she said.

Weinberg said district leadership will follow Inslee’s order, and though there is concern about additional shortages, she is optimistic that many who have not yet received their shots will do so within the next three weeks.

One area where Weinberg said the district may suffer is in transportation. By law, the district is required to provide transportation for students enrolled in special education and for students experiencing homelessness. With fewer drivers, some routes for general education students — whom the district is not required to provide transportation for — may be cut, she said. Weinberg called cutting bus routes the “worst-case” scenario.

Additionally, Weinberg said there are fewer food services workers this year. If employees continue to opt out of the vaccine, schools may have to serve fewer hot meals and will have to resort to prepared meals.

”We want the community to understand that we want to transport your kids and we will do what we can, but at the end of the day we have legal requirements and we will follow the law,” she said.

–By Cody Sexton

  1. Exactly. Hopefully they start hiring now with retention bonuses for those who stay.

    It’s a hard situation. Since for the most part, it has not worked to reason against those held mentally hostage by conspiracies. We shouldn’t let them continue to be a danger to all the kids around them, but replacing them will be difficult.

    1. You may be completely right William. However, I hope that it will not be as bad as you have predicted.

      Many economists have predicted that the mandate would be cause near term losses but overall positive improvements in the economy. A recent Goldamn Sachs review stated, “We see some downside employment risk in the near term, as 7 million affected workers report that they will definitely not get the vaccine… Overall U.S. vaccination rates may hit 82% by the middle of next year after vaccines are approved for children under 12, a level we feel will see the economy more fully open and workers less hesitant to return to jobs.” In addition, all of the 42 economists in an IGM study who were surveyed recently found that they were either sure or very sure that there is likely to be a net benefit to the economy from the mandates.

      The question really is how successful will the new job seekers be in finding new jobs, and how impactful will the mandate be in helping to end the pandemic. Personally I don’t see this pandemic ending in the next ten years, but the vaccine will majorly mitigate the damage. A large number of those people who will choose to end their jobs rather than get vaccinated may find other work. Although the magnitude of the economic shock from these initial job loses will be significant.

      In addition, about 1.6 million women are out of the labor force because of Day Care Closures and staffing, and the likely reduction in school drivers will worsen that for all parents. Worsening the situation further, there is about to be a significant amount of people who will lose their housing or utilities at the end of the eviction moratorium next month.

      Overall, I think lower wage jobs will continue to fell pressure until they continue to raise wages to levels that meet demand. Although they may receive an increase in interest from desperate unvaccinated people, if they can. While higher wage jobs left vacant by unvaccinated people will be more quickly filled.

    2. I just wanted to add that I think that your analysis William is likely more correct than the economists I cited who said that there would be either a positive or very positive economic effect from the mandate.

      That benefit is really dependent on the mandates pushing us much faster into full recovery. However, I don’t see it making that significant of a difference. The Goldman Sachs review found that there might only be 2.5 million new vaccinated people as a result of the mandate, while at least 7 million – 25 million would lose their jobs. Even if the majority of those people got new employment, they would be leaving industries like education and health care that would make an enormous strain on the economy. Especially since those industries support the rest of the economy.

      Even with the savings in life from the extra COVID vaccinations, the reduction in hospital staff would stretch a strained medical system, and lead to overall more deaths as well.

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