Detroit Public Schools requiring staff vaccines by Feb. 18

In this image made from video, an empty classroom is shown at David Ellis Academy in Detroit, Monday, Feb. 8, 2021. It's coming up on a year since most of the students at the pre-K through 8th grade public charter school last had an in-person school day. (AP Photo/Mike Householder) (Mike Householder, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

DETROIT – All Detroit school teachers and staff members must be fully vaccinated by Feb. 18, the district’s school board decided Thursday.

The new mandate will affect a small percentage of staff who haven't been vaccinated, Detroit Public Schools Community District officials said. The new requirement will require employees to receive the vaccine and report their status to the district by Feb. 18.

Staff members can get medical and religious exemptions, but they must regularly test and wear a face covering, the Detroit Free Press reported. Staff members who don’t follow the mandate risk dismissal.

During a Dec. 14 meeting when the school board first considered the new policy, Superintendent Nikolai Vitti said 150 positive cases in unvaccinated people forced 483 students and 99 staff members to quarantine this school year.

“This policy I think is a step toward using the tools that are now available to us in the pandemic to keep students in school,” he said.