North Carolina Teachers Say School’s Testing Protocols Discriminate Against Unvaccinated

By Matt McGregor
Matt McGregor
Matt McGregor
Reporter
Matt McGregor covers news from North and South Carolina for The Epoch Times. Send him your story ideas: matt.mcgregor@epochtimes.us
September 23, 2021 Updated: September 23, 2021

Two teachers in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School (CMS) district in North Carolina allege that the district’s new COVID-19 testing policy discriminates against the unvaccinated, and that the policy was decided on “behind closed doors.”

In a memo sent out to all teachers and staff within the school system on Sept. 20, CMS stated that mandatory testing will begin for all unvaccinated employees and those who don’t complete an attestation survey on Monday, Sept. 27.

CMS alleged that only the unvaccinated are being tested because they “are at a higher risk of developing serious complications from COVID-19 and are more likely to contract and transmit the virus to others.”

North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services contracted with the vendor Ginkgo Bioworks to provide weekly testing of the unvaccinated to the district, CMS said, and attestation information will be maintained through the Qualtrics database system.

CMS emailed the “Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District Vaccine Status Tracker” to all teachers and staff, directing teachers to fill out a survey asking them to confirm their vaccination status.

According to CMS, failure to comply with the policy will result in disciplinary action or termination.

CMS said it won’t allow vaccinated employees to be tested, and that only test results received through CMS’s onsite testing program will be accepted.

Growing Division

“It’s discrimination what they are doing,” Suter Conrad, a third-grade teacher in the CMS system, told The Epoch Times. “There is already an issue with people being very hateful toward people who have made the personal decision to not be vaccinated for whatever reason, so CMS is already very divided right now, and this is just making it worse.”

Both Conrad and Kaitline Reid, also a teacher in the CMS system, said they will refuse the test, and will not be providing their vaccination status through the Qualtrics database.

“I will not be complying with the mandate to provide vaccination status or to undergo weekly COVID-19 testing if I will not be providing my vaccination status,” Reid told The Epoch Times. “I refuse to quit and will fight it. I believe that if CMS has an issue with my refusal, then they can terminate my employment with the county by firing me. No one should be mandated to receive a vaccine that was developed in under a year. I do not know what it will do to my body and I will not be a guinea pig.”

Reid said there is a teacher shortage at CMS, which will increase within weeks as the testing phases lead to the inevitable mandate.

“There is blatant discrimination happening with the mandate as they are only forcing those who are unvaccinated to undergo weekly testing which goes directly against CMS’s discrimination policy,” Reid said. “There is a split that I can tell is happening at the school and within the entire county over this. Even when speaking with my teammates there is a divide, and I was immediately responded to with looks of disapproval and even told that I was incorrect when providing actual facts about the vaccine and possible thing that could happen from receiving it.”

Conrad said the school will be utilizing “pool testing,” which involves combining samples from multiple people, which are tested together for a single group result.

“If you are in the pool that tests positive, then they test you again with the reflex test to see who tests positive,” Conrad said.

Both tests are PCR (polymerase chain reaction) nasal swab tests.

If one tests positive, that person is quarantined for 14 days, with no quarantine sick leave other than the standard six-day sick leave.

Conrad said there are 427 vacancies of the 19,471 employees within the second-largest school district in North Carolina.

Epoch Times Photo
A person puts on a mask outside the closed Wilson Library at the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, North Carolina, on Aug. 18, 2020. (Melissa Sue Gerrits/Getty Images)

Facing the Board

At the Sept. 14 school board meeting, Conrad spoke in public comment, challenging its existing doctrine on equity.

“How is only testing unvaccinated staff equitable, when this discriminates against the unvaccinated?” she said. “I know the counterpoints to this question and what has been spread across mainstream media, even with our health care systems and the sitting president calling it the ‘pandemic of the unvaccinated,’ however, vaccinated people have been proven to be able to contract and spread the virus.”

Brooke Weiss, chairwoman for the Mecklenburg County chapter of Moms for Liberty, a parental rights organization, also spoke in public comment, stating that she had filed a Freedom of Information Act request to discover who had authorized the policy of testing the unvaccinated weekly.

“It was denied,” Weiss said. “That’s completely unacceptable. This decision was made without the board voting.”

Reid told the school board in public comment that the decision was done in a “sneaky and underhanded manner.”

“What you’ve decided is illegal,” Reid said. “CMS is violating the Nuremberg code, as well as everyone’s Ninth Amendment rights. For those of you on the board who do not know what is covered in the Ninth Amendment, an individual’s medical rights are protected, and you are choosing to violate them. CMS does not have the right to force any individual to do anything that goes against the best interest of their own medical health.”

CMS’s Response

Yaviri Escalera, the media relations specialist for CMS, told The Epoch Times that Earnest Winston, the superintendent of CMS, and staff had made the decision to enact the testing policy. She added that it does not require board action.

CMS did not respond directly to the allegation that it is discriminating against the unvaccinated.

Escalera said that CMS is taking “every step possible to protect our employees.”

“Unvaccinated staff are at a higher risk of developing serious complications from COVID-19 and are more likely to contract and transmit the virus to others,” Escalera said. “By identifying positive cases early, we can isolate staff more likely to spread the virus. Isolating positive staff will minimize the spread of COVID-19 and help us keep schools open for in-person instruction.”

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Escalera said, has advised that employers can require employees to undergo COVID-19 testing if the testing is “job related and consistent with business necessity.”

The Strong Schools NC Public Health Toolkit also states that school districts should inquire about employee vaccination status and should require unvaccinated staff to participate in a screening and testing protocol.

Matt McGregor
Matt McGregor covers news from North and South Carolina for The Epoch Times. Send him your story ideas: matt.mcgregor@epochtimes.us