Alexandria City Public Schools will require coronavirus vaccine for staff

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Alexandria City Public Schools will require staff to receive the coronavirus vaccine ahead of the upcoming academic year, the school board decided Thursday at a specially called meeting — at which the board also named an interim superintendent, Melanie Kay-Wyatt.

The school board voted unanimously to approve several policies for the year including one that requires school employees to submit proof of vaccination. Only staff who can “satisfactorily establish religious or medical exemptions by law” may forego vaccination and instead take weekly coronavirus tests.

School staff who fail to abide by these rules “may be required to take leave without pay or may be separated from service,” the approved policy states. Alexandria is one of the only Northern Virginia districts to require employee vaccination; although Arlington Public Schools has approved a similar policy, the school districts in Fairfax and Loudoun are not mandating employee vaccination. None of the four systems require student vaccination.

Alexandria begins school Aug 22.

Kay-Wyatt, who currently serves as the school district’s chief of human resources, will take over as interim superintendent on Sept. 1, earning a monthly salary of $21,383. She will be the second Black female interim superintendent in the history of the Alexandria district, which enrolls approximately 15,000 students.

Kay-Wyatt is replacing Gregory C. Hutchings Jr., who resigned his position as superintendent this summer to lead an education consulting company he recently founded, Revolutionary ED, that aims to combat systemic racism in US public schools. Kay-Wyatt’s contract as superintendent will extend through June 2023 or until the school system concludes its search for a permanent superintendent — a search that began Thursday night, according to a school news release.

“I am honored and excited to serve our school community and students,” Kay-Wyatt said in a statement Thursday.

Before working for the Alexandria system, which she joined in July 2021, Kay-Wyatt worked in human resources for Spotsylvania Public Schools, served as a principal and assistant principal for Fredericksburg City Public Schools and was employed as a special-education teacher with the Fredericksburg district and Culpeper County Public Schools. She holds a bachelor’s degree in business from Mary Washington College and master’s degrees and a doctorate in education and educational leadership from Old Dominion University, the University of Mary Washington and Virginia Commonwealth University.

In a news release, school board chair Meagan Alderton praised Kay-Wyatt for her work in the Alexandria schools’ human resources department, crediting her with improving recruitment and hiring as well as developing and debuting staff vaccination and testing requirements during the pandemic.

Kay-Wyatt is “the right person to lead our school division at this time,” Alderton said in a statement.

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