As the COVID-19 delta variant spreads throughout Chester County, officials in South Coatesville opened discussion on mandating vaccines for borough employees during the Aug. 24 Borough Council meeting.
Council took no action.
The transmission level in Chester County is in the “substantial” phase as of Aug. 20, according to the Chester County Health Department.
Borough Manager Allen Smith said he received a recent email from a municipal managers group in Chester County. Municipal managers have talked about “emerging concepts,” including vaccine mandates, and he added that “a lot of municipalities” are discussing the issue.
Council member Robert Floyd advised officials the matter should be discussed during executive session because it relates to personnel, calling it “very important.” Smith responded, “It’s a good thing to be aware of.”
The Pennsylvania Sunshine Act allows public agencies to go behind closed doors to discuss terms and conditions of employment affecting “any specific prospective public officer or employee.” However, Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association has advised the personnel exception does not extend to policy affecting a group of employees.
“It’s every human’s right to choose (to be vaccinated),” council member Thomas Roney said.
Smith said he sent over communications to borough solicitor Siana Bellwoar for a critique. Smith said council members will have the opportunity to review over the next two weeks whether the borough should mandate the vaccine, with potential approval at the Sept. 14 meeting accessible in person and online.
Smith said the municipality could also investigate an indoor mask mandate in the borough.
“A lot is going to change within the next two weeks; that timeline’s perfect,” Council President Montez Jones said.
In other business, Vice President Ken Bond mentioned the borough’s centennial. The borough was established in 1921. Bond asked how and when the milestone will be celebrated. He suggested that officials begin to plan for a future event after the pandemic.
“We haven’t done or talked about it; nobody’s mentioned it,” Bond said.
Borough officials haven’t explored how to commemorate the milestone. He said the borough should begin planning a centennial celebration once pandemic restrictions are lifted and the pandemic ends; they are hoping to do a celebration in a few years.
“There’s a lot of history around here,” Bond said.