Two Oak Park school districts are pursuing a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for all employees.

Elected officials, school administrators and collective bargaining units from Oak Park and River Forest High School District 200 and Oak Park Elementary School District 97 are negotiating and working on a plan that could require staff across both districts to be fully vaccinated against the novel coronavirus.

District 200 employees received an email on Aug. 25 from the human resources department about the possibility of facing a COVID vaccine mandate, said Karin Sullivan, communications and community relations director. The email also stated unvaccinated employees could be subject to mandatory testing.

Sullivan said she is unable to share any further information because of ongoing negotiations. She said it’s a “collaborative” effort that involves D200 leaders, school board and four district collective bargaining units, including representatives from buildings and grounds, classified personnel, faculty senate and campus safety and support.

“It’s a discussion now. A decision hasn’t been made,” Sullivan said, adding the discussion to impose a COVID-19 vaccine mandate is about reaching the ultimate goal “to protect the health and safety of everyone in our building.”

On Aug. 20, the District 97 school board issued a similar statement. In an email sent to staff and families that day, elected officials talked about plans to work with school administration and collective bargaining units on enforcing a possible vaccine mandate for all D97 employees.

Representatives from the Oak Park Teachers’ Association, Oak Park Teacher Assistants’ Association, Oak Park Educational Service Personnel Association and Service Employees International Union (SEIU) are part of the negotiations.

Amanda Siegfried, senior director of communications for District 97, said she could not offer more details on the matter, as negotiations are still taking place. 

“We are committed to doing everything possible to provide the safest possible learning environment for our students and staff and will keep the community informed as our planning moves forward,” she wrote in an email to Wednesday Journal.

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