Phoenix Union offering financial incentives to vaccinated students, staff
PHOENIX – The Phoenix Union High School District is dangling gift cards and cash to encourage COVID-19 vaccination among staff and students.
The city’s largest district, with 22 schools and more than 28,000 students, launched the incentive campaign, called Vax to the Max, this week.
Under the program, all staff have until Oct. 11 to report their vaccination status. If the full district reaches a vaccination rate of 85%, each vaccinated employee will get a paycheck bonus of $200.
In addition, the staff at the district’s first large and small schools to hit 85% will receive a prize.
For students, everyone who submits proof of full vaccination by Oct. 11 will get a $100 gift card. The student campaign also includes schoolwide prizes for the first large and small campuses to hit 85%.
Most of the gift cards will be for Target, and some will be from local grocery stories.
District officials said the goals were set at 85% because that’s the typical level of herd immunity in a pandemic.
“Our goal through Vax to the Max … is to not just hit 85%, but is to keep you in school, keep you learning, keep clubs and sports and activities going, not just this quarter but throughout the year,” Superintendent Chad Gestson said in a video posted Friday.
The district said it’s paying for the program with federal stimulus money and not using state or local tax funds.
Phoenix Union has been aggressive with its COVID-19 mitigation efforts. It was the first district to defy the wishes of Gov. Doug Ducey and the state Legislature and implement a mask mandate.
The district is also offering free on-site and at-home COVID-19 testing opportunities for staff, students and the community as well Saturday vaccination clinics at select schools.
Details about the free testing and vaccine programs are available at the district’s website.