Carlton School Board approves OSHA vaccine mandate

Unvaccinated employees are required to wear a mask and submit to weekly testing under the policy.

Carlton High School
Carlton High School.
2019 file / Pine Journal
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CARLTON — During a special meeting held on Monday, Jan. 10, the Carlton School Board voted unanimously to approve a policy requiring all unvaccinated employees to wear masks and undergo weekly testing in accordance with the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s emergency temporary standard.

The policy enacted by the board was one of two options presented by the Minnesota School Board Association in response to the ETS. The second option, which was not pursued by the board, requires universal vaccination for employees.

OSHA issued the measure on Nov. 5, 2021, but it has been tied up in the court system after a stay of implementation was issued by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals on Nov. 6. The U.S. Supreme Court will ultimately decide the fate of the mandate with a decision on its legality still pending.

Superintendent John Engstrom said he has doubts about the likelihood of the ETS making it through the Supreme Court, but acknowledged that a plan should be in place in case it's approved.

“Based on the way the Supreme Court leans and based on the questions they were asking at the deposition on Friday, I’d say it’s a better than 50/50 chance that they’re probably going to toss this to the curb anyway,” Engstrom said. “But we need to be moving in that direction in case they don’t.”

Carlton School District staff were notified a week ago about the upcoming vote and as of Monday’s board meeting, Engstrom reported that 30% of staff members had provided their vaccination status. Engstrom shared that the percentage of those in compliance continues to grow daily.


Enforcement of the policy will begin Feb. 9. Employees who have not shared their vaccination status, those who haven’t filed for medical or religious exemption, or those who choose to remain unvaccinated will begin a weekly testing regimen and will be required to wear a mask.

Jake Przytarski is a reporter for the Cloquet Pine Journal covering a mix of news and sports.
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