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Harrisonburg School Board member alarmed by number of staff resignations

Published: Sep. 8, 2021 at 6:43 PM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - The Harrisonburg School Board meeting was packed Tuesday night with parents and staff who had concerns with recent policies and COVID-19 protocols, but before public comment began the school board discussed recent staff resignations.

During the meeting, School Board member Obbie Hill called the nine resignations alarming for the start of the school year.

Hill expressed his concern that those resignations may be because of a vaccine protocol voted on by the school board at its previous meeting.

The protocol requires school employees to be fully vaccinated or receive weekly COVID-19 testing if unvaccinated. It’s a change that had some division staff members speaking out Tuesday.

“I do not want it to be forced on me that I have to either be vaccinated which I won’t do against my own good health protocol,” Ellen Hopkins a staff member at Harrisonburg High School said. “The testing, the weekly testing makes me feel like a second-class citizen. "

In a statement to WHSV, Dr. Michael Richards says Virginia law prohibits him from discussing publicly the reasons why an employee chooses to resign but that it did not have to do with the vaccination protocol.

The School Board eventually moved the details of the resignation to be discussed during a closed session later this month.

Richards says he is working with the state to have a broader testing protocol for staff and provide more testing. He says as of Wednesday 99 employees are not fully vaccinated, but some do have at least one shot.

He says he expects that number to go down in the coming days.

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