HILLSBORO, Ore. (KPTV) - In less than a week, K-12 in Oregon staff will need to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to meet the state deadline.
Now, more than 60 transportation employees at the Hillsboro District 1J have signed the Freedom of Choice and Medical Privacy Petition. It asks the district not to enforce the mandate, but the district says they have no plans to disobey it.
One of those who signed the petition is a bus driver named Katrina, who wanted to remain anonymous. She said she's unvaccinated.
"All of us were hoping these things would change. Maybe the mandate would be pushed out," Katrina said.
"It's a bit disheartening, although, perhaps, not surprising," Hillsboro School District Spokesperson, Beth Graser, said. "Of course, we understand the frustration they're feeling."
The group of staff asks they don't follow the mandate because, according to the petition, they said it's "discriminatory".
"We are standing in solidarity. I'm not judging a person one way or another what they choose but what we're hoping for is the right to choose what's best for us," Katrina said. "Also, to not have the threat of retaliation if we make our convictions known."
Graser said they have every intention to comply with the mandate, which says school staff needs to be fully vaccinated by October 18.
If not, they can be fired or be put on unpaid leave until February 1, 2022. According to the memorandum of agreement in their contract - provided by Graser - if staff doesn't provide proof of vaccination or give human resources a resignation letter by then, their employment for the 2022-2023 school year will be terminated.
"Ultimately, we ground ourselves in the fact that we are here ultimately for the care and support of our students, nearly 19,000 of them, a majority of whom don't have the opportunity to be vaccinated," Graser said. "We believe it's our responsibility to do everything we can to ensure they're kept safe and they can continue to come to school every day. Every school day for the entire school year."
Right now, Graser said about 94% of their district staff is fully vaccinated. She said they hope to meet with this group of staff who signed the petition by Thursday.