City Schools of Decatur (CSD) became the first in the Metro Atlanta area to require all staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Superintendent Maggie Fehrman announced during the board of education’s September meeting that staff members would have to be fully vaccinated by October 31 or complete the districts’ exemption process.

Staff members who receive an exemption will be required to take a rapid COVID test each morning before work. CSD schools will be offering testing to exempted employees for a fee.

“We will not be accepting home COVID tests,” Fehrman said. “[Staff members] will have to bring in a certified result from either a pharmacy or a healthcare facility.”

The Superintendent and Board of Education declined to move forward with a vaccine mandate for students, citing obstacles and complications the mandate could present. 

Fehrman added that the district is continuing to recommend vaccination for all eligible students and the board will continue to explore the possibility of a vaccine mandate for students.

During the meeting, parents addressed the board in support and in opposition to a potential requirement for students to be vaccinated.

One woman spoke on behalf of herself and two other CSD mothers, all of whom she said are epidemiologists. She applauded the board for their decision to require vaccines for staff members, saying it would protect in-school instruction.

Two parents also spoke up to urge the board not to mandate the COVID vaccine for eligible students.

“We are putting all of our eggs in just one basket focusing so much on vaccines,” said one father. “Masking, distancing and other mitigation measures are working in our schools.”

The week of September 7, there were 18 positive student cases and 40 students required to quarantine across all CSD schools.

(City Schools of Decatur employee gets vaccinated at district event in May Photo Credit: Courtesy of the City of Decatur School District)

Madeline Thigpen is an education reporter and Report for America Corps Member. She joined the Atlanta Voice in 2021. At the Voice she covers K-12 education for the Atlanta metro region and higher education....