Caucus to hold hearing for educators, health care workers to discuss mandates

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By Paul Hughes, Republican-American

HARTFORD — Conservative Republican legislators are going to give teachers and health care workers a public forum to speak out against COVID-19 vaccine mandates in the workplace.

The legislature’s 17-member Conservative Caucus on Sept. 16 announced plans for a hearing Sept. 22 at 12 p.m. at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford so teachers and health care workers can explain how they are being negatively affected.

“This is a group of people who are frustrated and feel as though their concerns are falling on deaf ears — that they have nowhere else to turn,” said state Rep. Mike France, R-Ledyard, the caucus chairman.

Using his emergency powers, Gov. Ned Lamont has ordered all state employees in the executive branch, K-12 teachers and child care workers to get vaccinated against COVID-19, or submit to weekly testing. He has also imposed a vaccine mandate for employees of all hospitals, nursing homes and other long-term care facilities to be vaccinated against the virus.

Both orders allow for medical and religious exemptions. State employees, educators and other school staff, and child care workers may opt for weekly testing without claiming a medical or religious exemption. However, state hospital and long-term care employees do not have the option of testing in lieu of vaccination.

The governor’s office defended Lamont’s vaccine mandates.

“The COVID-19 vaccinations are the single best way to prevent serious illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19. Period. Connecticut residents know that, and that’s why we have one of the highest vaccination rates in the country,” said Lore Rae Anderson, a Lamont spokeswoman. “In the rare cases they’re needed, our requirements allow those with legitimate medical and religious exemptions to choose to submit regular COVID-19 test results. Our administration will continue to make decisions that keep the public health and safety of our residents as a priority.”