Campbell County School District to offer $300 incentive for staff to get COVID-19 vaccine

GILLETTE — The Campbell County School District will offer a one-time $300 incentive for district employees who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

The incentive will apply to all district employees, including certified staff, educational support personnel, substitute teachers, temporary positions and coaches.

The program is aimed not only at those district employees who haven’t been vaccinated yet, but it’s also to be retroactively applied to those who’ve already gotten vaccinated against COVID-19. Employees need only show proof of vaccination to qualify for the incentive pay.

The program will be completely voluntary, said Larry Reznicek, the district’s human resources manager.

Employees who have not yet gotten the shot have 74 days until the district’s Dec. 1 deadline. To qualify for the incentive, employees must have had both shots of either Pfizer or Moderna, the two-shot vaccines offered in the county, or one shot of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine by the deadline.

Incentive payments will be disbursed in January 2022.

The district has a total of 2,050 employees, with more than 1,900 of those being certified staff, ESP staff and substitutes.

Payments will be funded by the second round of Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CARES II), which President Donald Trump signed into law in December.

The CARES II Act designated about $135 million to Wyoming in Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSR II) money. The Campbell County School District got $8.8 million from that, which can be spent through Sept. 30, 2023.

Those ESSR II funds will pay for the incentives. If 100 percent of the district’s 2,000-plus employees got vaccinated, it would cost the district $615,000.

If only 40 percent of the district’s employees proved they had been vaccinated, it would cost the district $246,000.

The incentive payments are taxable income.

The district provided early vaccination opportunities for its employees, beginning in January.

The first round of vaccinations, which began in coordination with Campbell County Public Health on Jan. 25, saw 606 of the district’s employees elect to receive the vaccine. At the time, it was estimated that about 34 percent of the district’s employees elected to get the vaccination.

Kip Farnum, the director of the district’s student support services, told the board of trustees in February that low percentages of substitute teachers and transportation staff had signed up, but certified staff members in some schools registered for the vaccinations in numbers nearing 50 percent.

Reznicek said that administrators currently have no insight into the vaccination status of its employees, since they are not required.

After passing two measures aimed at incentivizing employees to get vaccinated, board of trustees chairwoman Ann Ochs said she hoped district staff saw their actions as a sign of the board's confidence in vaccines.

"When you look at the numbers, they speak pretty clearly," she said. "For those that end up in the hospital, the majority of those are unvaccinated, and the majority of those that are in intensive care are also unvaccinated. Just taking the data, we know that those vaccines can make a difference, and teachers in classrooms make a difference for kids."