The Bureau of Indian Education (BIE), the federal agency that oversees BIE funded schools that educate American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) children in nearly two dozen states, issued a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for employees on Thursday, September 2, 2021. The mandate covers more than 2,800 faculty and staff at 53 schools and dormitories operated directly by the U.S. Bureau of Education in states including Arizona, New Mexico, and the Dakotas. More than 180 schools operate under the Bureau’s umbrella, but about two-thirds are run by Tribes under contract with the federal government, or through grants.
Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said Bureau employees must be vaccinated no later than October 15, 2021, and must provide proof of vaccination. Those who don’t comply could be fired or lose their contract, the Interior Department said. Schools will consider individual requests for exemptions but could require those who are not vaccinated to follow safety measures established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This could include regular COVID-19 testing and showing proof that they have tested negative before returning to in-person schools or dormitories. Learn more.
Vaccination against COVID-19 is the strongest tool we have to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. Vaccines play a crucial role in protecting AI/AN children and Tribal communities. To learn more about what the National Indian Health Board (NIHB) is doing to encourage COVID-19 vaccination, visit our Act of Love website.