FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) – Lawmakers passed a bill banning a statewide mask mandate in schools in favor of leaving the decisions to local districts during the special session that was completed Thursday, but it did not address mandatory vaccination.
However, several members of the General Assembly discussed having businesses and other entities establish vaccination incentives, and that is what state school officials are doing.
The Kentucky Department of Education says it plans to use up to $8.8 million in Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds to provide reimbursements to districts that have rewarded and acknowledged the time, energy and effort staff members took to get vaccinated.
All full- and part-time public school district employees are eligible for a one-time vaccination incentive payment of $100 after being fully vaccinated against COVID-19. This includes employees who have already been vaccinated, as well as those who will be fully vaccinated by Dec. 1, 2021. There will be enough funding to reimburse districts for approximately 88,000 local school district staff.
“Getting people vaccinated is one of the main ways we’re going to be able to get out of this pandemic and get back into our classrooms as usual,” said Commissioner of Education Jason E. Glass. “We hope this will encourage people to get vaccinated in order to protect their students, colleagues and themselves.”
Districts must pay employees first in order to receive reimbursement from the KDE. In addition, the department is strongly urging local districts to consider providing additional funds that match the amount provided by the KDE, but a financial match is not required for districts to participate in the incentive program.
Currently, vaccine appointments are available at many locations across the state. To find a vaccination site near you, visit https://www.vaccines.gov/. You also can text your zip code to 438829 to receive a text message with three vaccine locations near you.