Gov. Kate Brown’s mandate that health care workers, teachers and school staff be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 was met with near complete compliance in Central Oregon by the Monday deadline.

But the deadline was not met quietly.

At Mountain View High School dozens of students protested the departure of one of the mandate’s most visible casualties — Mark Schulz, coach of the freshman football team — and at St. Charles Bend, unvaccinated medical personnel lined up along the front entrance of the hospital.

Schulz, 50, told The Bulletin he declined to file for a religious exemption and that Bend-La Pine Schools has placed him on unpaid administrative leave.

“The hardest part is the kids,” he said. “But on the other side of things taking a stand — what I’m doing right now — is for them also, because I think the next vaccine mandate is going to be for the students.”

Many of the protesters outside St. Charles had been placed on unpaid leave as of Monday because their requests for a medical or religious exemptions either had not been approved or were approved but not accommodated.

“These mandates are not lawful,” said Steve Carnes, a member of the People’s Rights Oregon of Redmond. “They’re against our freedom, and we think they’re wrong.”

Employers who do not require workers to be vaccinated or file for an exemption could be met with a $500 fine.

“We do ask employers to offer some flexibility to employees going through the process of becoming vaccinated against COVID-19 or getting approval for a vaccine exception,” Jonathan Modie, a spokesman for the Oregon Health Authority said in an email.

He said those who have not been fully vaccinated or approved for an exemption cannot be near patients or students. Those employees can be asked to work remotely, take vacation time or unpaid leave until they have met the vaccination requirement, he said.

When the mandate was announced in August, Central Oregon educators in nearly all of the region’s school districts were concerned the mandate would contribute to staffing shortages. But on Monday most districts reported nearly 100% compliance. The school districts expect little to no impact on day-to-day operations.

• Bend-La Pine Schools: 91% of the district’s 2,281 staff were vaccinated, 9% filed for an exemption, and 15 employees were placed on unpaid leave.

• Redmond School District: 83% were vaccinated and 17% filed for exemptions.

• Sisters School District: 87% were vaccinated and the rest filed for an exemption.

• Crook County School District: 70% of employees were vaccinated and all but six of the rest filed for exemption. Most of the six positions have been filled.

• Jefferson County School District: 77% of employees were vaccinated and nearly 20% filed for an exemption.Only one employee will leave the district. The rest are still in the process of meeting the requirement.

• Culver School District: 100% of employees complied with the mandate. The district did not share a breakdown of the options staffers chose.

Among the medical professionals Monday protesting the mandate was Allison Hocker, a registered nurse at St. Charles. Hocker and her mother, Barbara Martin, stood with hundreds of others on the public sidewalk outside the hospital after being told they could not protest the mandate on hospital grounds.

As she talked about being placed on unpaid leave, her eyes filled with tears. She had applied for and was granted a religious exemption to the vaccine mandate, but was told the hospital could not accommodate her.

“I don’t have much to say,” Hocker said. “Nurses are a huge part of this group. It’s heartbreaking that the hospital couldn’t accommodate us.”

Meanwhile at the opposite side of the hospital, off Purcell Boulevard, a small group gathered to support health care workers who have worked for the past 20 months. Armed with a lighted sign that said thank you, Emily Gibson said normally her group, Care Baskets for St. Charles Heroes gather in the afternoon to show their support, but on Monday wanted to show a slice of support for the efforts of those working.

“We thought we’d be a voice of support out here and focus on the hired workforce,” Gibson said. “We wanted to be a spot of positivity and rationality. The people here at St. Charles have worked so hard.”

Of the 323 caregivers who applied for exemptions at St. Charles Health System, 49 were reasonably accommodated with remote work and 101 were provided an unpaid leave of absence, according to a hospital statement. Of that same group of 323 caregivers, 98 chose to start their vaccination series after initially requesting an exemption.

The hospital also reported that 93.5% of its staff are vaccinated and 51 medical personnel are in the process of completing a vaccination series. The hospital said that those unable to comply with the mandate, are considered to have voluntarily resigned, according to the hospital.

To date, 180 professionals are presumed to have left St. Charles because of the vaccination mandate, but officials aren’t sure about the exact number.

“We believe that most of those who left us last week were impacted by this rule,” said Rebecca Berry, St. Charles Health System Human Resources vice president in a prepared statement.

Under the governor’s mandate, a medical exemption must be corroborated by a document signed by a medical provider on an Oregon Health Authority form certifying the individual has a physical or mental impairment limiting the individual’s ability to receive a COVID-19 vaccination. A religious exemption must be corroborated on a similar document and signed by the individual because of a sincerely held religious belief and including a statement describing the way in which the vaccination requirement conflicts with the religious observance, practice, or belief.

Schulz, who has been a football coach at Mountain View High School for 26 years, said he is not against vaccines, but he wants people to have a choice.

He said he told students about his decision at their game last week.

“There was a lot of tears and a lot of concern and a lot of hugs,” Schulz said. “I have 27 freshman football players that I’ve gotten to know and love just as my own son and not being able to finish that football season with them ... it was hard.”

Bob Bures, a special education and English teacher at Mountain View High School in Bend, said Schulz is important to a lot of kids.

He said a lot of students feel like he is getting fired, but added that Schulz had the choice of vaccination or religious or medical exemption just like everyone else.

“It’s sad and really hard on the kids,” Bures said.

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(24) comments

grateful BB subscriber

"...the hospitals are over the worst of the onslaught and the mandate, at this point, will not spare the hospitals."

I know some St. Charles hospital employees who would strongly disagree with that statement. Seventy-nine of our friends, neighbors and family members are hospitalized today with Covid-19. Sixteen of them are in the ICU requiring a tremendous amount of care from a dedicated team. It's still overwhelming.

More than a third of the 4,226 deaths in Oregon from Covid-19 have occurred since the beginning of July this year, when the Delta variant hit us. The vast majority of those 1,448 deaths were in the un-vaccinated population.

Thank goodness most of us are not defeatists, believing that we are powerless to curb this pandemic. We know that public-health guidance and mandates save lives.

Skittish

I agree with nihilism being a bad thing. I am for doing things that work, not waste time and energy with superficial gestures, which is mostly what we are doing and debating about. The mandate at this point will have no impact on the rate of hospitalizations. Perhaps you overestimate the mandate effectiveness, which is not be confused with voluntary behavioral changes, mask effectiveness or vaccine effectiveness. What I am experimentally trying to do is point out and separate the effects of the mandates versus voluntary use of masks and vaccination. Yes masks and vaccinations work, but no one is making a case that the mandates work even better, which in my mind requires a higher threshold of argument.

Your knowledge of what St. Charles employees might think is meaningless. Your quotes of statistics is without context and interpretation and therefore also meaningless about mandates. Do you recall St. Charles arguing that the staff were getting infected in the community and NOT at the hospital? So why are they now mandating vaccinations when their own data and interpretation of that data told them working at the hospital was safe and risk of transmission lower than in the community. My goal here isn't to prove you wrong or shame you. I just want to see what you do with some facts from St. Charles that contradicts their own directives. Perhaps you can teach me something I don't know.

gregb2781

And now we learn Oregon again errored by sending 40,000 state employee records to two newspapers.

BuckeyeDuck

Interesting. I don't see that in this article. Source please.

BuckeyeDuck

Interesting. I didn't see that in the article. Source please.

highdesertda

The headline is somewhat skewed. I think the sensible community of health care providers in Bend is very much in favor of the vaccine and doing everything possible to put this whole mess behind us. 90%+ compliance. Once again a vocal minority grabs the attention.

Skittish

Should we or should we not protect the legal rights of minorities? In some cases yes and in others no? If so, how do we decide whose voice is worthy of legal protection? I thought that was the tricky balance The Constitution was trying to strike to avoid hegemony. Where would be be today with a long history of "vocal minority"?

BuckeyeDuck

Protect the rights of the unvaxxed minority? Is that what your saying? They are protected. They can protest, complain, etc.,all they want but they made the choice of going against a mandate which has a consequence (besides putting themselves at higher risk of contracting C19).

Skittish

Look at the handle of the person I am responding to.

MF

Schulz “said he is not against vaccines, but he wants people to have a choice.” He needs to be reminded he does have a choice. Always has. He just needs to remember that his choice has consequences.

Pnwhof

Exactly, they are all choosing to leave current employment because they are unwilling to follow the requirements for employment. Not rocket science. Probably need a career change as all potential employers will have same req's.

Additionally, why paint the coach of "26 years" as a victim; it's his choice to let down all of the kids he purports to mentor. Sigh.

Moderate

The headline would be more accurate if it said, “draws ire of some members of the health community in Bend.”

Healthcare workers who support a vaccine mandate for their peers have a little incentive to speak out and draw the antagonism of this incredibly vocal and visible minority.

Dmcn

I agree, since the majority are now vaxxed. How about an article on the people still risking their lives and working?

CentralOregonFred

"what I’m doing right now — is for them also, because I think the next vaccine mandate is going to be for the students." Uh, someone should tell him that students already have a long list of vaccine mandates.

Marcomm

I'm appalled that someone with so much influence over young minds would take this ill informed and contrarian stance. Good job coach!

Transitory Inflation

'I don't believe in getting a vaccine unless the benefit outweighs the risk."'

You're in luck! The benefit of getting this vaccine went up dramatically today.

Skittish

So you would recommend against the vaccine if there were punishments for getting it, hypothetically? The decision to get the vaccination should be based on the merits of the vaccine itself, not a political or business decision. If it were up to me, we would outlaw alcohol, tobacco, marijuana and make everyone exercise at least 2 1/2 hours per week. If the standard is that we can legislate what is good for people, whether they agree or not, then where's the limit? Who gets to decide what is "good"? As long as it's me, then I have no problem with that.

Moderate

The mandate is not in place to protect the individual healthcare worker who would not otherwise be vaccinated. It is to protect the coworkers and patients who come into contact with the healthcare worker, and to cut down on broader community spread. I am not at risk of catching high blood pressure, or obesity from you.

Skittish

I do not disagree with you that the virus is contagious, causes harm and is spread from person to person. I agree that if I had high blood pressure or obesity that this would not be transmissable to you. However, in contrast, whether or not I get the vaccination, you will be exposed to the virus at some point. Mandating vaccines will not prevent you from being exposed and infected: the vaccine slows the rate of transmission, but does not prevent or limit the spread as stated. This is the central point about why the mandate at this point is not justified in my mind.

The virus is here to stay for the foreseeable future whether or not we are all vaccinated. So to take the argument to the extreme, if every single person in the United States were vaccinated and you were not, you would still be exposed and infected by the virus as the mandate does not prevent the transmission of the virus and will not eliminate the virus from the human population. If what I say is true, and I am basing this on multiple different covid researchers including Dr. Fauci’s statements it is reasonable to conclude that the virus is here to stay, the vaccine mandates will not prevent the unvaccinated from being exposed. So why fire someone when there is no benefit to society at large?

At this point, the infections are trending down, the hospitals are over the worst of the onslaught and the mandate, at this point, will not spare the hospitals. I change my mind based on the circumstances. I would have supported a mandate last summer, prior to the peak infections to but only to minimize the impact on the hospitals. We missed that window.

But what about my point that if the legal standard is that we can mandate things that are good for people against their will, who gets to decide what is good and where do we draw the line?

Pnwhof

HAH!! good point!

BuckeyeDuck

Hypothetically, what would a punishment be for someone getting the vaccine?

The merits have been shown already, particularly in the recent numbers of unvaxxed in dire straights and dying versus the vaccinated.

We have mandates in place we adhere to on a daily basis for the good of all (not just you skit). Seatbelt law is an example.

BTW, your reply below that a vaccine doesn't stop the spread shows your ignorance on the subject which makes the rest of it suspect.

We get it, Skittish, it's all about you.

Skittish

So if the vaccine STOPS the spread, how is it that those of us vaccinated still spread it, are hospitalized with it and like Colin Powell, die from it? It's a fact that the vaccination doesn't prevent infection or transmission: those that are vaccinated don't spread it as much though. It's primary intent is to prevent deaths and serious cases and that it does very well. Let me know if you still can't see the difference.

Skittish

So you can't see the difference then. Yes, the virus appears to be here to stay for the foreseeable future. That should change your way of thinking, at least it does mine. Here's a link, hot off the press about delta return in the UK, which has a track record of seeding new variants: https://news.yahoo.com/deltas-surprise-uk-comeback-is-a-warning-sign-for-the-us-090008459.html.

This isn't about me from my perspective. The virus is gonna do what the virus is gonna do and I just want to adjust to it. You are the race grifter that needs black people to feel inferior, anxious and depressed otherwise you don't have a purpose. I personally don't believe "black" people need "white" Jesus.

BuckeyeDuck

In reply to below Skit, majority of folks vaxxed yields nowhere for the virus to go and it dies out. See hx of smallpox, polio vaccines. You want Covid to be endemic, again, cause it's all about you and the other less educated.

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