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COVID-19 Back to School FAQ

By August 3, 2021September 9th, 2021A Message From Our Director, Featured

As schools prepare for the fall and with the spread of the Delta variant of COVID-19, governments at every level are rapidly revising policies regarding vaccinations, masking, and other pandemic-related issues.

To simplify the confusion about the many things you may be hearing about our current situation, we have attempted to respond to the most common inquiries we are receiving with a few simple FAQs. Clearly this is a continuously changing landscape, and we will update this document as warranted.

1. Can I be required to take a COVID vaccine as a condition of employment?

Now that the Pfizer vaccine has been fully approved by the FDA (and approvals of other vaccines may follow shortly), there is little to prevent employers from requiring the vaccine under current court precedent. We will be watching relevant court cases for any potential relief from vaccine mandates. (See FAQ #4 re: religious and medical accommodations.)

2. Can I be required to disclose my vaccination status to my school district?

It is legal for the district to ask your status, but you cannot be forced to reveal such. However, should you choose not to disclose your vaccination status, school districts will be within their rights to withhold incentives or privileges that they provide to those vaccinated.

3. Can my school district require me to wear a mask or submit to regular COVID-19 tests?

Yes, districts are required to create a safe work and schooling environment and therefore follow the recommendations of state and local health agencies.

Furthermore, regular COVID-19 testing is being given as an option in many states should you choose not to be vaccinated. We believe school districts are legally allowed to require testing but will be monitoring any court cases that may arise. While many districts are paying for the tests, if your district does not, the CARES Act requires your health insurance to cover the cost.

If you have a medical reason for not taking the particular test the district has chosen, you can ask for a medical accommodation so another form of testing can be used.

4. Can I avoid being vaccinated or wearing a mask by asking for a religious or medical accommodation?

In some cases you can. A medical accommodation must be backed by a physician, and you should have a Biblical justification for a religious accommodation. In most states, the district must abide by such requests if not causing a hardship, but there are limits to what they must do. Not all accommodation requests are successful, and many are only partly successful. Finally, some accommodation arrangements may remove you from contact with students, thereby inhibiting your ability to carry out your God-given calling to teach and love them.

To request a medical accommodation for vaccines or masks, consult with your physician. These accommodations are given at the discretion of your physician.

To request a religious accommodation for vaccines, here is an example of text you can use if it lines up with your convictions (modify to fit your situation):

Dear Employer:

I have a sincerely held religious belief in the sanctity of innocent human life, pre-birth, to birth, to natural death. I cannot participate in or benefit from abortion, which is murder according to the Bible. All humans – born and unborn – are made in the image of God.

Further, my church teaches that I am to abstain from vaccines that defile the temple of the Holy Spirit (our physical bodies) or which are derived from or support the murder of the unborn. Accordingly, I cannot accept any vaccination that is derived from aborted fetal tissue, nor contribute to the bottom line of a manufacturer who sells vaccines that are derived from aborted fetal cells.

Even if a vaccine is available that does not utilize aborted fetal cells, if it is sold by a company that also sells vaccines derived from abortion, that company is still profiting from abortion, and I cannot in good conscience benefit from any of its products. I am not aware of any company providing a COVID-19 vaccine that does not profit from the sale of vaccines derived from aborted fetal cell lines.

I therefore request an exemption from the mandated vaccine.

Given the recency of mask requirements, there is no clear established precedent for religious accommodations to avoid wearing masks. This current case out of Michigan may provide ideas for how to construct a religious accommodation argument, but the initial District Court ruling against it also demonstrates the difficulty of success.

5. What if you have already had the virus and therefore have antibodies to fight COVID naturally?

Unfortunately, it likely does not make any difference because it is the opinion of government health agencies that you should still be vaccinated. Those agencies maintain that no one knows how long the antibodies will last.

6. As an insured Member with Coverage, will CEAI support me if I refuse to wear a mask or get a vaccine?

Yes, should your job be threatened, you would have the services of a local attorney to represent you up to the coverage limits. Second, your membership provides unlimited legal and educational consultation with our staff. However, we cannot guarantee that you will keep your job if you refuse to comply with lawful mandates.

7. If I am included in a lawsuit related to the implementation of COVID protocols in my school, would CEAI membership protect me?

Yes, if you are an insured Member with Coverage, you are protected in the case of lawsuits by our $2 million Professional Liability policy. This coverage protects you against a broad range of exposures associated with your educational/school duties.

Resources:

CEAI Guidance: In-Person Schooling During COVID-19
Pacific Justice Institute: Vaccine Q+A
Liberty Counsel: Help with Religious Exemptions from Vaccinations
First Liberty: The Future of COVID-19 Vaccine Mandates in the Unites States

A Time For Courageous Educators

As Christian educators we cannot live out of fear in this time of COVID-19. Listen to this heartfelt message from CEAI Executive Director David Schmus calling us to courageously seek first His kingdom as we consider going back to school.

CEAI Guidance: In-Person Schooling During COVID-19

This season of battling COVID while attempting to provide a meaningful education has certainly been a challenge. Many of our members have contacted us with questions that school employees have never had to face before: In order to physically open schools, can a school district mandate precautions like face masks or daily temperature checks? Can I be required to submit to COVID-19 testing, or a vaccination?

More Info

Useful Links

For those who are feeling vulnerable during this time and need prayer email us at prayer@ceai.org or call (888) 798-1124
To join our prayer and encouragement Facebook group visit ceai.org/prayergroup
For news updates, articles, and tips for navigating this crisis, be sure to like our Facebook page

10 Comments

  • Nancy says:

    Thank you so much for this reassuring message.

  • David Schmus says:

    We would love to hear your stories of how God is using you during this crisis, prayer requests, or other encouragements and testimonies!

    • Julie Green says:

      Several teachers from my church got together to prepare a meal and deliver a few staples to our senior citizens yesterday.

  • David Schmus says:

    You’re welcome Nancy! May the Lord pour out His Spirit on you today. =)

  • Kàsey says:

    Thank you for your compassion and caring. I have decided to join your organization beyond the free version I have been in. I believe you truly care for teachers and students. Thank you. I have forwarded the email about the prayer on Monday and some of your daily devotions to co-workers. God bless you and be with you as you go forward during this difficult time.

  • Denise says:

    Thank you Both for a timely and compassionate message of encouragement. I have only been a member of CEAI for a few months, and I believe God led me here, in my 28th year as a teacher, knowing this would be the most challenging yet. May God richly bless you as you are a blessing to others. .

    • David Schmus says:

      Thank you so much Denise….so happy to have you as a member. Please join us for prayer on Mondays!

  • Tereza Judge says:

    Your emails have been a source of normalcy in these strange times. Thanks for your ongoing support and prayers!

  • Aaron James says:

    Hello Everyone,

    My wife and I, both teachers, are using this time to recharge, spend time with our kids, and grow closer to the lord. We are offering online resources to our students and trying to be a positive and hopeful voice during this time. We are also pouring into 3 students who need Jesus. We are able to spend time with then outside of school. They have a complex story, but we feel even being a reflection of Jesus is helping them. Pray along with us that we can reach them.

    Thank you everyone for your support and prayers.

  • Sheryl Mobley says:

    Thank you so much for the Covid Back to School information. It helped me as a private school teacher with no unions to protect my interest.

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