By Caroline Vandergriff

FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – Fort Worth ISD will now offer a cash incentive to teachers and staff who get vaccinated against COVID-19.

The district says the $500 bonus is meant to make schools safer and healthier.

“This is a voluntary information provided by employees,” a district staff member told the FWISD Board of Trustees at their meeting Tuesday night, Sept. 28.

They voted to approve the one-time stipend for teachers and staff who can show proof of full vaccination by November 15.

“I think it’s worth noting that this resolution is a $5.3 million investment in student safety and health,” said Ann Darr, a school board member.

According to the board’s resolution, the district expects to spend $5,371,750.00 on the payout, but it will vary depending on employee participation.

The money is coming from federal ESSER relief funds.

“This is one way to hopefully motivate those who are on the fence to get that vaccination status,” said Steven Poole, executive director of the United Educators Association “For the ones who are adamant against it, it may not motivate them, but it is at least some encouragement that the district is trying.”

Poole also says it will help maintain consistency in the classroom.

Right now, FWISD teachers who are fully vaccinated aren’t required to quarantine if they’re exposed to COVID-19 and not experiencing any symptoms. Unvaccinated teachers are.

“It’s the disruptions that are constantly occurring at schools, that’s causing a lot of issues and a lot of learning loss for the school year,” Poole said.

The district has set up a confidential portal employees can use to upload their completed vaccination card.

“Then we have personnel – very limited personnel – that will verify the employment, and then that information will be extracted from the portal and sent to payroll,” said Deputy Superintendent Karen Molinar.

Those who opt in will receive the $500 incentive this December.

Per the resolution, the following eligibility requirements apply for employees:

Full-time employees and 180-day substitutes must have worked for and been compensated by the District since September 1, 2021 and must not have voluntarily or involuntarily parted ways with the District as of November 30, 2021.

Part-time employees must work at least 80 hours from September 1, 2021 to November 30, 2021 to qualify and must not have voluntarily or involuntarily parted ways with the District as of November 30, 2021.

Non-180-day substitutes employees must work at least 20 hours from September 1, 2021 to November 30, 2021 to qualify and must not have voluntarily or involuntarily parted ways with the District as of November 30, 2021.

Caroline Vandergriff