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District 518 votes to adopt COVID-19 related policy

The Worthington Independent School District 518 Board of Education voted 5-1 Monday to adopt a policy requiring employees to either be vaccinated or wear face coverings and test weekly for COVID-19.

New rules issued by the federal Occupational Safety & Health Administration SHA require employers of 100 or more people to have policies in place that either require vaccination outright, or require vaccination with a test-and-mask alternative.

District 518 has more than 100 employees, and Superintendent John Landgaard reiterated that the district was in a position in which it had to adopt one of the two policy options. School board member Tom Prins cast the lone “nay” vote -- board member Mike Harberts was not in attendance.

An appeal to the federal OSHA rule is scheduled to be heard as early as this week by the U.S. Supreme Court. Should it be invalidated, Minnesota OSHA could still decide to proceed with that same rule. District 518 would be subject to fines of $7,000 per violation for each instance of non-compliance.

The Worthington City Council, in a 3-2 vote last week, moved to adopt a policy similar to that approved Monday by the District 518 board. The Nobles County Board of Commissioners was to consider its course forward on the matter during its meeting Tuesday morning.

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