HISD board approves vaccination stipend, added COVID leave

The Houston Independent School District Board Of Education approved a stipend program that gives employees a one-time $500 stipend for those who show proof of full vaccination against COVID-19. On Thursday, the board also approved additional Covid-19 leave time if needed for isolation.

Once approved by TEA, to get the stipend, employees must submit their proof of vaccination to Health and Medical Services by Nov. 19, 2021. Additional guidelines will be shared with employees soon.

“The best tool we have in this fight against the COVID-19 pandemic is vaccination,” said Superintendent Millard House II. “As vaccinations increase in our communities and schools, the better protected and safe we all will be. The safety of our staff and students continues to be my guiding compass and I am grateful to the Board of Education for approving this incentive that will hopefully encourage more of our staff to be vaccinated.”

Participation in the vaccine stipend is entirely voluntary. Details regarding vaccination locations, assistance, and more can be found at HoustonEmergency.org/covid-19-vaccines and ReadyHarris.org.

Employees who are not able to be vaccinated for medical reasons are also eligible to receive the stipend and must submit proper documentation. The one-time $500 stipend is being paid out through the district ESSER funds.

The trustees also approved COVID-19 paid leave (up to 10 days for the 2021-2022 school year) for all employees who are fully vaccinated, as well as those who are medically unable to be vaccinated, or those who meet religious exceptions. Proof of vaccination or medical exemption must be submitted to qualify. Religious exceptions must be requested through HISD’s religious accommodation committee. Employees who are not vaccinated must use their personal leave to isolate due to COVID-19.