LOS ANGELES (CNS) — All Los Angeles Unified School District employees will be required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Oct. 15, interim Superintendent Megan K. Reilly announced.
The district previously was mandating only weekly testing for all students and staffers, regardless of vaccination status. That testing requirement will remain in place.
“The science is clear — vaccinations are an essential part of protection against COVID-19,” Reilly said in a statement.
“To date, our safety measures include daily health checks for everyone going onto school campuses, masks, comprehensive COVID-19 testing, contact tracing and isolation of cases, hand sanitizer, increased sanitization/cleaning of schools and upgraded ventilation. This additional step goes above local and federal health guidelines in order to provide another layer of safety in our schools, especially for our youngest learners.
“We deeply care about all of our employees. We appreciate everyone’s commitment to maintaining the safest possible environment for the students and families we serve,” the statement said.
According to the district, LAUSD will consider medical or religious exemptions from the vaccine requirement. For employees who fail to comply with the mandate, the district “may take disciplinary action, including but not limited to placement on unpaid leave and/or separation from service.”
The mandate has the support of the Board of Directors of the district’s powerful teachers union, united Teachers Los Angeles. According to the union, the board voted “overwhelmingly” to support a vaccine mandate for all employees. The board had previously voted only not to oppose a mandate.
“I am the parent of an LAUSD fifth-grader, and my family has been going through the same uncertainty and anguish as so many other families as we approach the return to school,” UTLA President Cecily Myart-Cruz said.
“Because of the protocols that UTLA educators and LAUSD families fought for and won, LA Unified has among the strictest COVID safety protocols in the country. But this Delta variant is unlike anything we have seen so far in this crisis — especially its impact on children — and we all need to step up to do our part to protect the most vulnerable among us.”
LAUSD fall classes began Monday, Aug. 16.
LAUSD Board of Education member Kelly Gonez backed the mandate, writing on Twitter, “Vaccines are the best tool to protect our school communities against COVID-19. The vaccines are safe, free and extremely effective at preventing people from getting sick and ending up in the hospital.”
Board member Tanya Ortiz Franklin added, “Requiring vaccination for all LAUSD employees and adults working in our schools is the right, responsible decision. I invite others to join us.”
Gov. Gavin Newsom on Aug. 11 announced a statewide requirement for all teachers and school employees in the state to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination or submit to weekly testing. The Long Beach Unified School District, the second-largest district in Los Angeles County, also announced the same policy.