School board approves vaccination incentive for all staff members

Published 6:36 pm Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Beaufort County Schools staff members now have an extra incentive for getting vaccinated against COVID-19.

The Beaufort County school board unanimously approved on Tuesday a $250 stipend for any fully vaccinated staff members who are employed by the school district between July 1, 2021, and June 30, 2022, and can prove they have been vaccinated. As long as employees meet that employment timeframe, the date they got vaccinated doesn’t affect their eligibility.

Federal ESSER funds will cover the cost of the incentives. Superintendent Matthew Cheeseman said if 100% of the school system’s approximately 1,000 employees took part, the initiative would cost about $275,000, including retirement pay and FICA. BCS has been granted more than $28 million in ESSER funds. With 60% of employees vaccinated — which is approximately where the district stands now — it will cost $194,000.

“You have the money, and in my opinion it’s a very intentional way of using it,” Cheeseman told the school board.

Cheeseman said BCS is possibly the first district in the state to go in that direction.

“… When you look at the North Carolina Strong Schools Toolkit, the number one thing that keeps you in the workplace is a vaccination,” Cheeseman said. “Meaning if a student tests positive and the teacher is present, if he or she has a vaccination they get to stay. Whereas if they don’t the teacher is quarantined.

“There is no better education than a face-to-face education between a teacher and a student,” Cheeseman added. “But also, it’s so valuable to have our bus drivers, school nutrition, custodians, nurses, everyone who plays a role in that education.”