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Letter to Mayor Bowser: Require vaccination against COVID-19 for all public school employees, child care facility employees, and DC government connected individuals who have regular contact with minors.

August 24, 2021

The below letter was penned by Councilmember Christina Henderson and signed by Councilmembers Charles Allen, Janeese Lewis George, Brianne K. Nadeau, Anita Bonds, Mary M. Cheh, Elissa Silverman, and Brooke Pinto.

Dear Mayor Bowser:

As you know, yesterday, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for individuals 16 years of age and older. Now that this important milestone has been reached, we write asking that you amend Mayor’s Order 2021-099 to require all public school employees (DC Public Schools and public charter schools), child care facility employees, and any District government employees, contractors, grantees, or interns who have regular in-person contact with minors to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, providing an exception only for medical reasons. This would be similar to the vaccine mandate you recently announced for all health care professionals in the District, which removed the option to test weekly in lieu of vaccination once the FDA fully approves a vaccine.

We applauded your decision to rollout a vaccine or test mandate earlier this month, but we must now ask that you go further. Ensuring all the adults around students and children, especially those who are ineligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, are fully vaccinated against the virus adds another layer of protection for these young people. As we head into the start of the school year, many parents have expressed anxiety at the uncertainty of what lies ahead for in-person learning. Strong vaccination and masking protocols, in tandem with other safety measures for our public schools and child care facilities, will provide us the best chance to keep children safe and keep our schools open this year.

Your amending the Mayor’s Order will allow for swift implementation so that the already established September 19, 2021 deadline can be met. We urge you to take this step immediately.