BOE discusses school employee vaccination requirements

The school policy in effect since September of last year stated that teachers must either be fully vaccinated or tested weekly for Covid-19.


On Monday night, the Pascack Valley Regional High School District Board of Education discussed vaccination requirements for school employees, recognized student achievements, and listened to a presentation about anti-bullying. 

At their last meeting on Feb. 7, the BOE voted to update the vaccination requirements for employees. The school policy in effect since September of last year stated that teachers must either be fully vaccinated or tested weekly for Covid-19. At this meeting, they shared their thoughts on the policy.

BOE member Michael Weaver said that he thinks the policy should be removed. 

“This policy contradicts what the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] is saying…at what point do we ask the Department of Education?” he asked. 

Interim superintendent Daniel Fishbein stated that the BOE’s policies are based on the New Jersey of Education and state laws. 

Other members gave their opinions on the policy.

“The science has developed, but I feel that the vaccine requirements are necessary. It’s about the load on hospitals…vaccines have been known to keep people out of hospitals,” BOE member James Stankus said. 

BOE vice president Gini Varghese added, “Not only is it about vaccinating teachers, but it’s about the students because when teachers are ill, it has a significant impact on students…so if you’re not vaccinated, let’s test to [account those staff members] for that.”

According to Fishbein, 26 staff members in the district have been testing regularly since the policy was put into place. The money for the tests came directly from the staff members if it was not covered by their insurance. 

The entire BOE was not in attendance at this meeting, but the present members tied at a 3-3 vote. Since the policy was not passed, it will likely be reintroduced when more members are present. 

At the same meeting, the BOE also announced that the district will be going mask-optional, starting March 7. Under Governor Phil Murphy’s order, schools have a choice to make masks mandatory for students and staff; however, the district chose to not make them mandatory due to the decrease in the Covid-19 infection rate.

According to Fishbein, Bergen County is in a “green,” or low level of Covid-19. The colors on the scale from least severe to most severe rank green, yellow, orange, and red. He added that the district would only return to wearing masks if the county falls under the orange or red level.
C.D.C. guidelines for Covid-19 levels.
The Covid-19 level for Bergen County is green according to the C.D.C.

The C.D.C. also released information that masks are no longer required for school or athletic buses. The same policy applies; if the county falls under the orange or red level, then they will become mandatory again. 

Earlier in the meeting, Pascack Hills junior and Bb Clarinet musician Amy Sheehan was recognized for her acceptance into the Bergen County Band and her performance in the Bergen County Band Festival on Jan. 16. 

The results from the N.J. Department of Education on the district’s scores for the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Harassment, Intimidation, and Bullying (H.I.B.) Self-Assessment from 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 were also shared. 

In the school self-assessment, there are eight elements and 26 indicators in each element. The elements include H.I.B. programs, training, staff instruction, how H.I.B. is infused into the curriculum, personnel, investigating H.I.B. incidents, and reporting. 

A school can score itself from 0 to 3 for each indicator, for a maximum score of 78. Under this system, Hills has a score of 77 and the district has a score of 76.