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Council eyes COVID resolutions

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ELKO – Elko City Council on Tuesday will be considering writing a couple resolutions on COVID-19 issues, such as mask mandates, vaccine passports and mandatory vaccines, after considering recent stances taken by the Elko County School District and Lander County.

The agenda for the 4 p.m. meeting at city hall asks the council to provide staff direction on potential resolutions.

School trustees sent a letter to Gov. Steve Sisolak sharing the concerns of the board, parents, educators, students, and the community, stating that “although we appreciate your efforts to keep all Nevadans safe during the Covid pandemic, we have serious reservations about what the future will bring.”

The trustees say that they learned during the past school year that children have “amazing immune systems,” and the board recognizes the importance of choice for parents and guardians when it comes to the welfare of their children.

“Indeed, this is a basic Constitutional right protected by the 14th Amendment,” the letter says, listing three concerns – potential extension of the mask mandate, the possibility of mandatory COVID-19 immunizations, and potential restrictions on participation in school activities based on immunization.

“These issues are weighing heavily on the board and our communities. We would like to receive some assurances from your offices addressing each of these concerns,” the trustees wrote. A copy of the letter was provided to the council.

Lander County Commissioners adopted a resolution prohibiting any Lander County governmental entity from issuing a COVID-19 passport, stating that the commissioners have “serious concerns that implementing COVID-19 ‘vaccine passports’ will violate Lander County residents’ medical privacy rights, prejudice those who have not been vaccinated, and cause division among our populace.”

The commissioners also say that mandatory vaccines or passports would be “contrary to the core values and principles of this board, of the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights and the global body of human rights doctrines.”

The school board raised concerns about mask mandates and requiring vaccines.

“For the academic success, athletic excellence, and mental well-being of our students, it is respectfully requested that mask mandates and any mandatory Covid vaccination not be required in subsequent school years. In addition, student participation in activities should not be restricted based on Covid immunization,” the letter says.

Additionally, the school board states that there are concerns that the COVID-19 vaccine would be added to the list of immunizations in state statutes for school enrollment, reminding Sisolak that the COVID-19 vaccines still lacks full licensure from the Food and Drug Administration.

“Under no circumstances should the right to a public education, guaranteed by the Nevada Constitution, be made conditional upon receipt of any vaccine,” the school trustees state in the June letter.

Lander County Commissioners resolved that in addition to prohibiting mandatory vaccines and passports, businesses in the county are prohibited from requiring customers to provide any documentation certifying COVID-19 vaccination or coronavirus recovery before entering a business.

Businesses also are barred from basing employment on proof of vaccination, according to the resolution.

“All county agencies shall work to ensure businesses comply with this order,” the resolution states, adding that they must comply to be eligible for grants or contracts from county revenues.

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