RANDOLPH COUNTY — Questions of whether employees in Randolph County will be required to be vaccinated for COVID-19 were once again raised at a public board meeting this month.

Stephen Gainey, Randolph County Schools superintendent, addressed the school board on the issue, stating he wanted anyone who was in attendance or listening to the meeting online to understand his position.

“Whether the vaccine is available or not, it is an individual decision,” Gainey said. “That’s what it is and that’s what it always will be. It will be respected by me as an individual decision. I’ve been asked many times in the last week; are you going to require us to get the vaccine? Absolutely not. … If the state requires it, then we will honor and work within the requirements the state puts on the school systems to carry out.

“It is an individual decision, and I’m going to do everything I can to get the vaccine to individuals who want it.”

It marks the second time in three months that a Randolph County official has spoken publicly regarding the possibility of requiring the vaccine. In December, Hal Johnson, Randolph County manager, discussed the possibility of requiring vaccinations as a part of the larger context when a letter was circulated to Randolph County employees.

The letter stressed the importance of making responsible decisions about who employees are around during the pandemic while they are not at work. County employees were asked to sign a document that expresses their intent to abide by the policies set forth by the state.

Some county officials, including Commissioner Kenny Kidd, have taken issue with the government’s role in attempting to mandate protocols during the pandemic. Kidd takes particular offense to the county’s willingness to ask employees to sign a document expressing their intent to follow the governor’s mandates and recommendations.

Randolph County Chairman Darrell Frye has clarified the county’s position throughout to implement no policy in excess of what the state requires. He explained that the county simply asks residents to abide by the laws already in place.

“The county has not put in place any protocols or restrictions other than those imposed by the state,” Frye said. “Our position has been to call on folks for self-discipline, take care of themselves and their families.”

Staff writer Daniel Kennedy can be reached at 336-888-3578, or at dkennedy@atnonline.net.

Staff writer Daniel Kennedy can be reached at 336-888-3578, or at dkennedy@atnonline.net.