Department of the Interior to require COVID-19 vaccinations for staff at BIE-managed schools

The Interior Department is the latest federal agency to implement vaccine requirements.

Department of the Interior
The U.S. Department of the Interior protects and manages the Nation’s natural resources and cultural heritage; provides scientific and other information about those resources; and honors its trust responsibilities or special commitments to American Indians, Alaska Natives, and affiliated Island Communities.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The United States Department of the Interior will soon be requiring all staff at Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) facilities to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

A press release issued Thursday afternoon announced that all educators at BIE-operated elementary and secondary schools, off-reservation boarding schools and affiliated dormitories will be required to receive the full dosage of an FDA-approved vaccine no later than Oct. 15, 2021.

The Pfizer vaccine, which contains two separate shots, is currently the only FDA-approved vaccine for COVID-19, and requires a three to four week wait between doses.

The Department of Interior said the requirement falls in line with the CDC recommendations that educational institutions take action to provide for the vaccination of all teachers and staff.

“The Department (of the Interior) recognizes that education plays a critical role in promoting equity in learning and health, particularly for Indigenous communities that have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19,” the release says.


The vaccination requirement intends to allow American Indian and Alaska Native students to safely receive the “invaluable benefits afforded” by BIE‑operated schools.

Getting school communities vaccinated – including school staff and eligible students – will go a long way in preventing outbreaks before they happen, the release says, and help to ensure students can remain learning in-person at school.

“The United States has a direct interest in protecting American Indian and Alaska Native children, including their education, as part of its trust responsibility,” the release says.

The Interior Department is the latest federal agency to implement vaccine requirements for members of its workforce. Recently, the Departments of Health and Human Services, Veterans Affairs and Defense announced plans to require COVID-19 vaccinations for personnel.

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