MMSD school board to consider vaccine mandate for teachers

MADISON, Wis. — Madison teachers may soon be given a vaccine mandate, depending on what the Madison Metropolitan School District Board of Education decides at its meeting next week.

The vaccine requirement is on the board’s agenda for Monday night, and one board member says a vaccine mandate is not only vital for staff — but also the district’s 27,000 students.

“Most are too little to be vaccinated, so we have to make sure the adults around them are vaccinated, or at least show proof of a negative COVID test,” board member Nicki Vander Meulen said.

Vander Meulen wants the board to not only talk about mandating vaccinations for district staff, but also vote on it Monday.

“This is too important not to have a stand or take a stand on,” she said.

The FDA fully approved Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine on Monday, and Vander Meulen says that is a key factor in escalating the effort to require the shots for staff.

“Now we have full approval saying this vaccine, which we knew ahead of time, is safe, is effective. Those are two things the public can rely on,” Vander Meulen said.

She hopes the board’s discussion is just the first step in getting closer to a normal school year.

“Our students are the most important resource we have,” Vander Meulen said. “We need to make sure they’re protected.”

RELATED: MMSD to require masks for everyone indoors and on buses to start school year

MMSD spokesperson Tim LeMonds tells News 3 Now the district relies on local health experts to make decisions during the pandemic, and agrees Pfizer’s full approval has moved the conversation forward.

“Our planning around the pandemic continues to involve collaborative discussions with Madison Teachers, Inc., MMSD staff, the Board of Education and local health experts,” LeMonds said in an e-mail. “Any decision for or against vaccine mandates for staff will be made with consideration of their input.”

As recently as last week, MMSD told News 3 Now it wouldn’t require staff to get the vaccine or submit to regular COVID-19 testing.

The Board of Education meeting is scheduled to be held virtually starting at 6 p.m. Monday.