By Jackie Valley/The Nevada Independent

The Clark County School Board of Trustees authorized mandating the COVID-19 vaccine for employees during a marathon meeting that stretched into early Thursday morning, but the plan itself remains subject to negotiations with employee bargaining groups.

The 5-1 vote came after five hours of public testimony — the overwhelming majority of which was in opposition — and more than two hours of discussion. Trustee Danielle Ford cast the lone dissident vote, outlining a myriad of concerns ranging from operational challenges to medical accomodations being upheld.

Trustee Katie Williams, who has unabashedly argued for personal choice regarding vaccines, participated in the beginning of the meeting by phone but was not present for the vote. Last week, she included a hashtag known to be affiliated with the QAnon conspiracy theory in a tweet about the potential vaccine mandate. The tweet was later deleted.

Before the public weighed in, Clark County Superintendent Jesus Jara laid out his pitch for approving the resolution, which merely gives staff the green light to develop a plan for mandating the vaccine.

“The best medically available mitigation strategy we currently have is the vaccine,” he said. “The authority that I am requesting is to allow me as the superintendent to develop a plan, and processes necessary to implement the full vaccination of our staff. I am not — let me be clear — I am not asking for authority for student vaccinations. Planning takes time. Development of the processes takes time. COVID-19 is not waiting.”

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