ST. LOUIS – St. Louis Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Kelvin Adams says nearly all teachers and employees have complied with the district’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate. But some employees who are opposed to the mandate held a public rally Thursday morning outside St. Louis City Hall.
Teachers and other employees at the ‘Let Us Test’ rally said they had a constitutional right to refuse the district’s vaccine mandate.
At a news conference that afternoon, Dr. Adams didn’t mention the protest but touted the fact that a majority of district teachers and employees had been vaccinated.
“At this point in time, 97% of our staff have been vaccinated; 97% as of Oct. 15. So, teachers are leaning in every single day to try to make sure that students are given the best opportunity to be successful,” he said.
The vaccine mandate took effect on Oct. 15. SLPS workers had to be fully vaccinated by that date or obtain a medical or religious exemption. Those who were not vaccinated would have to be tested for COVID twice a week.
If employees did not meet one of those two standards, they were placed on unpaid leave and could be subject to further discipline, including termination. Two teachers in the protest said they were denied religious exemptions by the school district. One of those teachers, Naomi Davis, is on unpaid leave.
“I have to wait and get a decision from my God, for Him to give me permission to get vaccinated and He comes first,” she said.
The other, Kimberly Holmon-Rome, has been fired.
“It hurts. I feel a little slighted because you offered this to me and then say no the religious exemption part and to be tested and I told them I would be tested,” she said.
According to an SLPS spokesperson, the district has granted 35 medical exemptions for the vaccine. However, no religious exemptions have been given.