Milwaukee Public Schools, the largest school district in Wisconsin, will give $100 to students who get the COVID-19 vaccine.
The district’s school board voted unanimously Thursday night to mandate vaccinations for staff by Nov. 1, with exceptions for religious or medical reasons.
The board considered a vaccine mandate for students but ended up unanimously approving a $100 incentive for MPS students 12 and older who provide proof of vaccination by Nov. 1., including those who already got their shots.
The district has about 31,205 students who are eligible for the vaccine, meaning the district could shell out as much as $3.12 million, administrators said during the meeting, the Milwaukee Sentinel Journal reported. Money from the district's $500 million federal stimulus installment will be used to fund the effort.
The school already has other COVID-19 safety measures in place, such as required face masks, HEPA filtration units and physical distancing.
“The COVID-19 vaccine is one of the most effective strategies to mitigate the spread of the virus,” Superintendent Dr. Keith P. Posley said in a statement. “We owe it to our students, teachers, staff, and community to take all possible steps to ensure safe schools.”
The district’s COVID-19 dashboard reports a total of 525 cases among students and staff since July 1, with 115 students testing positive the week of Aug. 30 to Sept. 3.
Over the last 14 days, there have been 448 cases among children under the age of 12 and 406 cases among 12 to 17-year-olds in Milwaukee, according to the city’s dashboard.
Nationwide, pediatric hospitalizations are a rising concern. Pediatric hospital admissions are at one of their highest points of the pandemic, with more than 2,355 children receiving care across the country for confirmed or suspected COVID-19 infections.
Debates over vaccine mandates continue to unfold in school districts across the nation.
On Thursday, the Los Angeles Unified School District became the first large scale system to require eligible students to get the vaccine. All students ages 12 and up will be required to be fully vaccinated by Jan. 10, 2022, unless they have a "medical or other exemption," the school district said.
President Joe Biden also announced that private businesses with 100 or more employees must require their employees to be vaccinated or undergo weekly testing.