PORTLAND, Ore. (KPTV) - Students at Portland Public Schools will not be required to get the COVID-19 vaccine, at least for the time being.

Tuesday night the school board spoke in favor of delaying any decision on that.

On the table was a possible vaccine requirement for students 12 and up.

Board members said they don’t think a COVID vaccine mandate would offer a significant enough benefit right now, especially when many students are already getting vaccinated and some can get an exemption. Plus holding off gives families time to decide.

"What we would gain with the mandate is not significant enough to push it forward at this time," Board Member Eilidh Lowery said.

PPS board members delay making a decision on a student COVID vaccine requirement

Image: KPTV

"By making this pause we’re allowing time for families to make a choice instead of forcing someone to, you’re going to do this and you’re going to love it. People are given time to read about it, to do research, they’re given time to make a decision," Board Member Herman Greene said.

PPS staff recommended that the school board delay a decision, saying when this was first discussed the end of September, cases were peaking which is no longer the situation, and that Multnomah County is close to reaching herd immunity anyway.

According to the Oregon Health Authority, 82% of people 18 and older, and 79% of kids 12 to 17 in Multnomah County have had at least one dose of the vaccine.

Meanwhile though the District Student Council surveyed middle and high school students to get their thoughts on a vaccine requirement.

Of those who responded, nearly 90% of them said they are fully vaccinated and nearly 90% support a student vaccine mandate.

The PPS Chief of Staff asked that the board hold off on voting on a vaccine requirement for at least six months, which would be the end of the school year.

But board members didn’t commit to that timeline.

"I don’t like locking us into six months because we could have another surge in December, January, February, March. We honestly don’t know what it will look like six months from now," Student Representative Jackson Weinberg said.

Given all of this, FOX 12 asked Multnomah County where things stand with herd immunity.

We’re told it’s a moving target because the virus has become more contagious and immunity from the vaccine wears off after several months, even though it still protects from severe disease.

But that they’re cautiously optimistic about slowly moving away from COVID precautions early next year.

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