CHICAGO (WLS) -- The Chicago Park District will require its employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 starting Dec. 15.
Interim General Superintendent and CEO Rosa Escareño notified the park district's workforce of the requirement Tuesday. Employees with approved medical or religious exemptions will be exempt from the mandate, but will be required to undergo regular COVID-19 testing.
The announcement comes after the City of Chicago implemented its own vaccine requirement for employees on Oct. 15. In a statement, the park district said its new employee vaccine mandate was introduced to combat the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace.
"Implementing a vaccine mandate for park employees is an important step in keeping our workforce, parks and patrons safe," Escareño said. "We must do our part to help ensure families that our parks are safe destinations for their children and contribute to the overall well-being of their communities."
The park district's said its notification to employees will be "widespread" with a virtual webinar aimed at ensuring employees have full understanding of the requirement and locations where they can get vaccinated. Employees who provide proof of vaccination by the December deadline will receive one additional personal day to be used before June 30.
The statement also said vaccination, masking, frequent hand-washing and social distancing are proven to be the most effective measures in preventing the spread of COVID-19.
"A vaccinated workforce will help make sure park facilities are as safe as possible for employees to work and for park patrons to enjoy," the statement continued.