WORTHINGTON — While an injunction against the federal vaccine-or-mask COVID-19 mandate for employers remained in effect Monday, District 518 is preparing to implement the mandate if and when it is required to do so.

“This is something that’s being done to our district,” said Superintendent John Landgaard during a Monday meeting of the District 518 Board of Education’s Instructional Committee. “It would not be what I would recommend for you to choose to do. It’s a mandate that’s coming at us.”

Landgaard said the mandate has a number of parts that apply to employers with more than 100 workers, including putting a COVID-19 vaccination policy in place and maintaining records for it. There would be two options for a potential policy, with the first being mandatory vaccination for all employees. The other option would be to require employees to either be vaccinated against COVID-19 or to undergo weekly testing and wear a face mask.

“This came out of the federal level. It’s not from the district,” Landgaard said.

Employers violating the rules can be fined up to $14,000 per violation.

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The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit issued a stay, freezing the requirement on Saturday.

“How long that will last we don’t know,” said Brad Shaffer, school board member, adding that District 518 needs to have a plan ready if the rule takes effect, which Landgaard estimated could be as soon as early December or January.

Typically, when legislation changes require new policies for schools, the Minnesota School Boards Association releases model policies that local boards can adopt as their own with or without some alterations, and Landgaard said he expects them to do that in this case as well.

Tom Prins, school board member, asked what would happen if teachers quit.

“It’ll be a problem,” Landgaard answered.

In other news Monday, the committee:

  • Received a preliminary school calendar for the 2022-2023 school year, with 177 instructional days and 186 teacher days. School Board Chairperson Lori Dudley asked if there are snow days anymore. Landgaard answered that there are, because if the school initially calls a 2-hour late start and then cancels, it is too late to have a learn-from-home or e-Learning day. Further details are in District 518’s e-Learning Information for Parents/Guardians and Students document, available on its website in English and in Spanish. The 2022-23 calendar will go before the board for approval.

  • Authorized hiring a contractor to help students with mental health issues at Worthington High School for two mornings a week, as the three counselors there are stretched very thin. The hire could be paid for with COVID-19 mental health funding the school already has. The matter will go before the full board for approval on Tuesday.

  • Discussed having student representatives to the school board again, as the last one graduated a year ago. The committee agreed to bring the matter to the full board for discussion in the future.

  • Heard about the district’s annual audit report, which was clean, and will go before the full board on Tuesday for approval.