School and fire districts detail impacts of vaccination mandate

VISD have lost no employees due to the vaccine mandate, but VIFR has released one firefighter/EMT.

Vashon Island School District (VISD) has lost no employees due to Gov. Jay Inslee’s mandate for workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19, while Vashon Island Fire District (VIFR) has released one firefighter/Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) due to the mandate.

Both districts processed and granted a small number of requests for exemption to the mandate.

According to Fire Chief Charles Krimmert — who himself chose to be vaccinated in response to the mandate — four exemptions were requested by VIFR personnel, and three were approved.

Raechel Ehlers, the human resources staffer for VIFR, said that the district’s chaplain, Father Tryphon, was now “available for our membership by phone to provide support.” She added that Tryphon was no longer responding to scenes with patients.

In September, Tryphon told The Beachcomber that he was unwilling to be vaccinated against COVID-19, and posted on Facebook that he had submitted paperwork asking for a religious exemption to the mandate.

VISD has also granted a small number of exemptions to the mandate, according to Amy Sassara, director of human resources for the school district.

In an email, she told The Beachcomber that the staff at VISD is now 98% fully vaccinated. The district did not lose any employees to the mandate, she said, but did accommodate three staff members, she said. Two of those exemptions, she said, were to certified staff members — a job classification that includes both teachers and administrators.

Accommodated employees, she said, may have interaction with students, but regardless of their assignment, are required to wear KN95 masks with a second mask, as long as it does not interfere with the fit of the KN95. They are also required to use appropriate physical distancing in their work situations and always when eating, and must undergo twice-weekly testing.

Tim Meyer, a spokesperson for King County Sheriff’s Office, said on Monday that it is premature to discuss mandate impacts in terms of the employment of any deputies serving on Vashon because the Office is still reviewing requests for exemptions.

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