Infographic by Lys Goldman '21
All Westport teachers and staff are expected to work in person on Friday, April 9, an asynchronous day, after the district’s final second dose COVID-19 vaccine clinic is held on Thursday, April 8, per an email sent to all staff on April 5. Staff members must utilize a sick day if they experience side effects from the second shot and are unable to report to work.
Some staff members were unhappy with the decision.
“Obviously we should have to work when it is a workday,” an anonymous Staples teacher said. “However, I think they should have reconsidered the type of day it was going to be and how they laid it out to people, because I think how they laid it out may have upset some people unintentionally.”
The Friday was originally designated as asynchronous in efforts to mitigate potential staffing issues due to side effects of the second dose.
“We knew […] that a lot of people were having significant side effects following the second dose,” John Bayers, Director of Human Resources and General Administration for Westport Public Schools, said, “and that was very concerning for us to think about in terms of could that create some serious staffing issues for us.”
Students are expected to stay home and fulfill requirements of posted assignments without logging onto Zoom.
Staff members who participate in the vaccine clinic and experience side effects must use a sick day if they cannot work in person. According to Bayers, roughly 250 WPS staff members are going to receive their second dose on Thursday, about a quarter of the overall district staff.
“We didn’t want to say that it’s just a non-work day for everybody else, because there are a lot of people who can still perform the essential functions of their job,” Bayers said.
Some teachers noted the discrepancies in the use of sick days on the day after vaccination between last week’s second dose clinic and this upcoming clinic. Because of Good Friday, teachers who received their second dose last Thursday did not need to utilize a sick day.
“I think us trying to get the vaccine for the betterment of the school and the betterment of our own health should not be punished through having to take a sick day when the first half of the people who got the vaccine did not have to use a sick day if they had a reaction,” a second anonymous Staples teacher said, “and now the people in the second half, who are likely younger with less sick days, have to use them.”