The Houston ISD board of trustees approved several coronavirus-related agenda items during an Aug. 19 meeting, including a one-time stipend of $500 to any district employee who is fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

The Texas Education Agency must approve the stipend before this program can be implemented, according to an Aug. 19 press release from the district. If the program is approved, employees must submit proof of vaccination to HISD's Health and Medical Services by Nov. 19.

“The best tool we have in this fight against the COVID-19 pandemic is vaccination,” Superintendent Millard House II said in a statement. “As vaccinations increase in our communities and schools, the better protected and safe we all will be."

Participation in the program is voluntary. Employees who are not able to be vaccinated for medical reasons are eligible to receive the stipend if they submit the documentation, according to the release.

The one-time $500 stipend is being funded with federal funds provided to HISD through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief program. The move was approved by the board two days after Harris County began offering $100 in a new effort to incentivize more people to get the shot.

The trustees also approved a new COVID-19 paid leave policy at the Aug. 19 meeting. All employees who are fully vaccinated—as well as those medically unable to be vaccinated or those who meet religious exceptions—will receive up to 10 days of paid leave for the 2021-22 school year that can be used in situations when they need to isolate due to COVID-19. Employees who are not vaccinated must use personal leave to isolate, according to the release.