Chicago Board of Education expected to vote on proposal that could mandate COVID vaccine for CPS employees

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The Chicago Board of Education is set to vote Wednesday on whether to require all Chicago Public Schools employees to get a COVID-19 vaccine or risk losing their jobs.

The board's monthly virtual meeting is set to take place Wednesday morning, with a proposed policy that would give CPS CEO Janice Jackson the authority to possibly mandate the vaccine as a condition of employment.

The proposal would also allow the district to call on employees to report to work in person. It also includes a provision that requires CPS employees to show proof they've received a vaccine.

The Chicago Teachers Union is pushing back.

"We believe there is an obligation to bargain with the union over things that are conditions of employment and we should expect the board to bargain with us about this," CTU president Jesse Sharkey said.

Regardless of motive, labor law experts say employers can legally mandate proof of vaccination.

"But, they need to make sure that proof doesn't have any information regarding disabilities or genetic information," said Margo Wolf O'Donnell, co-chair at Benesch Law Labor & Employment.

O'Donnell is working with several employers to craft vaccination policies. She said it is legal for companies to mandate vaccines as long as the policy is subject to certain accommodations.

"They could be disability related accommodations or accommodations for sincerely held religious beliefs, so it requires that employers and employers talk through these issues," she said.

The CPS policy does include accommodations.

CPS has said even if the board passes the proposal, the district will not enforce a vaccine mandate right away.
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