Mid-South parents, local school leaders react to President Biden’s call for new COVID mandates

Memphis, Tenn. — President Joe Biden said more aggressive measures must be taken to keep children in schools and protecting them from COVID-19.

During a speech on Thursday, the president called for governors to require the vaccine for all school employees and for districts to implement regular testing for students and staff.

SEE MORE: Mid-South governors react to President Biden’s new vaccine mandates

Some agree a more aggressive approach needs to be taken, while others say it would be too difficult to force employees to get the vaccine.

“I tend to think everyone should get the vaccine, but I think it’s difficult to force people to do that,” Daniel Lofton of Memphis said.

Lofton knows how fast COVID can spread in schools. His daughter recently tested positive for the virus and was sent home.

Alice Langley, a nurse practitioner in Memphis, said she agrees with the presidents’ measures.

“I agree if you’re eligible you should be vaccinated, especially if you’re going to be around other people who are vulnerable, or you should just be virtual learning,” she said.

SEE MORE: ‘We’re in a tough stretch’: Biden announces new COVID-19 mandates for millions of Americans

Keith Williams, the head of the Shelby County Education Association, believes regular testing is a good thing.

“I think above all for safety and security of our children and teachers in the schools and any place where we gather in large settings, we should test on a regular basis,” he said.

FOX13 reached out to the Shelby County School District for a comment.

A spokesperson there said since the beginning of the school year, the district has partnered with Poplar Healthcare to provide voluntary testing for employees and students.

Through a grant, the district said testing teams are scheduled to visit SCS schools throughout the week.

Williams said more students and staff need to take advantage of those services.

“The earlier you catch it, you’re better off. You don’t need to wait until there are many deaths and many sicknesses,” he said.

Biden’s administration also announced teachers and other employees of schools run by federal agencies will be required to get the vaccine.