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SLPS to give vaccinated teachers, staff $750 bonuses before winter break

The spokesperson said the bonus is to "acknowledge their support of the district" and "what, for some, was a difficult decision"

ST. LOUIS — Teachers with St. Louis Public Schools will receive a $750 bonus before this year's winter break, a school spokesperson said Thursday.

The spokesperson said the bonus is to "acknowledge their support of the district" and "what, for some, was a difficult decision."

SLPS staff must show they've been fully vaccinated by Oct. 15. The district says "fully vaccinated" means it's been two weeks since an employee has had their last dose of the vaccine series.

The policy does make room for medical and religious exemptions. But, an exemption form had to be submitted before Sept. 24. 

Employees who receive an exemption will be required to be tested twice a week. Tests will be conducted on Monday and Thursday at no cost to the employee.

Disciplinary action or termination could be on the table for teachers who don't show they've been vaccinated this week.

The school district said employees will be placed on unpaid leave if they do not meet the requirements of the vaccine policy and have not been approved for an exemption.

Union Spokesperson Byron Clemens said more than 95% of members are vaccinated. The union is in favor of educators getting vaccinated and even took the district to task during the pandemic to make sure anyone who enters a school building has multiple protections from COVID-19.

"It is a personal choice, but we want to protect the children of St. Louis, especially the young ones who can't be immunized themselves," Clemens said.

No matter vaccination status, Clemens guarantees due process for all teachers.

St. Louis Public Schools had a meeting on Tuesday night to discuss what's next as the deadline approaches on October 15. The board voted back August to make vaccination mandatory. SLPS has about 3,400 employees and almost 1,500 teachers.

“We are enacting the policy based on what the board indicated," said Superintendent Dr. Kelvin Adams after a Tuesday night board meeting. "We are working through every teacher’s concern and we’re going to do everything in our power to make sure every classroom is covered, but the policy is the policy and it really has begun. The deadline is officially on Friday.”

To read the Saint Louis Public Schools mask policy, click here

For answers to frequently asked questions about the vaccination policy, click here.