The Beachwood City School District will adopt a “vax or test” policy for all employees and for students 16 and older participating in extracurricular sports.

Beachwood City School District already requires universal masking during the COVID-19 pandemic for all 1,550 students and its approximately 330 employees.

The policy requires all employees to either be vaccinated or to submit results of COVID-19 tests weekly online, the first due by 11:59 p.m. Nov. 11 showing a negative result in order to attend school.

Students 16 and over who participate in extracurricular events will be subject to the same policy.

The Beachwood Board of Education approved the policy Oct. 25 in three unanimous votes – affecting unionized employees, non-unionized employees and the affected students. There are about 400 students at Beachwood High School who are over the age of 16, but the policy would apply to fewer, since not every student in that age group participates in extracurricular activities.

A memorandum of understanding was approved by the three unions in a vote of 83.8% Oct. 22, Beachwood Superintendent Robert P. Hardis told the Cleveland Jewish News Oct. 25. He spoke about the policy in a recent superintendent’s update as well.

Hardis told the CJN the two goals of this policy are “to provide the safest environment possible at school and … for our families, and our staff, and … to keep our students and our staff in school and avoiding unnecessary quarantine.”

The memorandum of understanding with unionized employees took effect Oct. 26 and sets dates by which an employee must be vaccinated and show proof of vaccination in order to avoid weekly mandated COVID-19 testing.

It also states that the district will provide free self-administered testing kits for employees at the workplace.

“However,” it reads,”if the district is unable to make free self-administered tests available at the workplace, any costs associated with testing shall be paid by the employee.”

In addition, it reads, “Vaccination and testing information shall be maintained as confidential to the maximum extent of the law. Only the superintendent, assistant superintendent, administrative assistant to the superintendent, and the administrative assistant to HR (human resources) will have access to vaccination and testing information.”

Hardis said the electronic filing will be “protected, encrypted and sent to our HR department.”

Hardis said it’s unclear how Beachwood’s new policy will dovetail with the state’s new “mask to play” policy and that he has asked for guidance from the Cuyahoga County Board of Health, which was also seeking clarification.

“We’ve left it entirely up to the student and his or her family, or the employee for how they wish to test,” Hardis said. “We want them to find it easy to do.”

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