Detroit district offers $500 incentive for employees to get vaccinated

A health care worker wearing a mask and a face shield uses a syringe to measure out a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine from a vial.
DPSCD will pay educators and some staffers $500 to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. (Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post)

The Detroit Public Schools Community District is offering a one-time $500 incentive to encourage educators and other eligible staff to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. 

The incentive, which applies to those who already have been vaccinated or plan to be by June 30, 2021, also includes up to 16 hours of sick leave to account for possible vaccine side effects. 

“This incentive is a way to promote the greatest protections to all employees as we work to minimize the threat of COVID-19 while respecting an individual’s choice not to vaccinate,”  Superintendent Nikolai Vitti said in a statement. 

The district is not requiring staff to get vaccinated. However, it said there has been a 10% increase in the number of employees who filled out an internal volunteer COVID-19 completion survey since the program was announced over the weekend. 

The district is using federal coronavirus stimulus money to pay for the incentives, said Chrystal Wilson, spokeswoman for the district. 

The Detroit Association of Educational Office Employees and the Detroit Federation of Para-Professionals are not eligible for these incentives at this time, she added. 

Other districts across the country are offering similar incentives. In Indiana, fully vaccinated teachers and staff can expect to receive a $150 bonus

“We are in agreement with the district to allow this to happen,” Detroit Federation of Teachers President Terrence Martin said. “We have had a number of members who have taken advantage of it.” 

About 2,000 district staff across the district have been vaccinated, he said. The district could not identify how many DFT union members have been fully vaccinated. 

The Detroit school board voted to pause in-person learning until its next meeting on May 11, and if COVID infection rates haven’t improved by then, DPSCD could stay virtual for the rest of the school year. Learning centers are set to open April 26, with students and staff testing weekly for COVID

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