State superintendent won’t compel employee vaccination, will ask for shot status

State Superintendent Catherine Truitt speaks from the Emergency Operations Center in Raleigh. Photo via N.C. Dept. of Public Safety

RALEIGH — N.C. state superintendent Catherine Truitt won’t force employees at the Department of Public Instruction to get a COVID-19 vaccine shot or compel them to provide proof of vaccination.

In an Aug. 3 memo to staff obtained by North State Journal, Truitt outlines masking guidelines and employee attestations of vaccination status.

The memo asks that all employees, including contractors, file an attestation form. Any individuals not filing the form will be considered unvaccinated and will be required to wear a mask inside the department offices.

“Non-compliance or falsifying proof of a vaccine will subject employees to disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal,” one of the memo’s numbered points reads.

The attestation form has multiple options, including one for refusing to disclose vaccination status including language that the employee understands they will be considered unvaccinated “for purposes of mask-wearing requirements and COVID-19 testing.”

Truitt’s move comes after a recent executive order issued by Gov. Roy Cooper which requires his cabinet departments to begin verifying the vaccination status of all employees. The Department of Public Instruction, along with Council of State agencies, are not considered agencies under Cooper’s control.

“Until more people get the vaccine, we will continue living with the very real threat of serious disease, and we will continue to see more dangerous and contagious variants like Delta,” said Cooper in a press release announcing the order.

“While the Governor is requiring vaccination status of employees, the Superintendent will not. Instead, she will allow for employees to voluntarily disclose this information using an attestation form,” NC DPI communications director Blair Rhoades told North State Journal in an email.

“Employees who voluntarily share their vaccination status won’t need to wear masks inside the building,” Rhoades wrote. “With all employees slated to return on a 3-day basis beginning next week, she hopes to make the workplace safe and comfortable for everyone. The Superintendent will not require vaccinated employees to wear masks.”

Executive Order 224 also states unvaccinated employees will be forced to undergo weekly testing and wear a mask indoors. The order, however, does not require visitors and non-government workers to wear a mask in any indoor areas of government offices, buildings or facilities.

Neither Cooper’s order nor Truitt’s memo acknowledges the rising number of individuals with natural immunity. In the latest N.C. Department of Health and Human Services report, 1,025,847 residents have contracted and recovered from COVID-19.

About A.P. Dillon 493 Articles
A.P. Dillon is a North State Journal reporter located near Raleigh, North Carolina. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_