News and Commentary

Los Angeles Teachers Union Demands Vax Mandate For All Eligible Students: Report

“The District continues to work with public health officials and labor partners to maintain the safest possible learning environment and workplace for students and employees."
LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 17: Alex Olvera, 15, is vaccinated with Pfizer by Rickeyva Foster, left, at the Manual Arts High School basketball and gym building in downtown on Monday, May 17, 2021 in Los Angeles, CA. The school is one of 200 sites that the Los Angeles Unified School District has deployed mobile vaccination teams to get as many shots into students arms as possible.
Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

A Los Angeles teachers union wants more stringent coronavirus guidelines for the nation’s second-largest school district.

The Los Angeles Times reports, United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) “is calling for mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for all eligible students and stricter quarantine rules while raising some objections to a new district mandate for online instruction when students are in quarantine.”

The Times obtained a document dated August 26 called “Counterproposal #2” that the outlet says was “submitted at the bargaining table.” It reportedly requests that students who have not been granted religious or medical exemptions “achieve full vaccination no later than 12 weeks following the birthday in which they become eligible” for the shots.

According to the outlet, “The union also is calling for entire classes of younger students to be quarantined when anyone in that class – staff or student – tests positive for a coronavirus infection.” However, the Times noted, “There is no indication that the district has agreed to either proposal.”

UTLA represents more than 33,000 educators, counselors, and librarians working in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), which serves more than 600,000 K-12 students at over 1,000 schools.

LAUSD had already implemented strict coronavirus protocols in preparation for returning to in-person learning on August 16. As The Daily Wire previously reported, Interim Superintendent Megan K. Reilly informed parents of a new policy in July requiring every student, teacher, and staffer returning to campus take part in weekly COVID-19 testing, regardless of vaccination status. There are also indoor and outdoor mask mandates in place on campuses.

Thousands of LAUSD students that tested positive or were possibly exposed to the virus have reportedly remained isolated at home or in quarantine since the new school year began. The increase in infections has primarily been attributed to the Delta variant, prompting a partial return to virtual Zoom-based class for some students.

On Monday, LAUSD officials announced an “Interim Continuity of Learning Plan.”

“The plan includes providing instruction to quarantined students via a web conference tool in the event the entire class and teacher are in quarantine,” and LAUSD press release said. “If only a few students are in quarantine, lessons will be live streamed.”

“The District continues to work with public health officials and labor partners to maintain the safest possible learning environment and workplace for students and employees,” it continued.

Still, UTLA leaders reportedly issued a statement on Monday night describing the move as “bad faith bargaining.” The union claimed the district “unilaterally” implemented the proposal “without having reached a bargaining agreement as required by law and without it being vetted by parents and educators.” UTLA vowed to file “an Unfair Labor Practice charge with the Public Employment Relations Board.”

The Times provides more details:

In the first week of school in L.A. Unified, about 6,500 students missed one or more days of classes because they either tested positive for the virus or were a close contact of someone who did. That works out to 1 in 70 students. About 1,000 district employees missed at least one day of work that first week for the same reasons. Only one school, Grant Elementary in Hollywood, has had a confirmed outbreak — with three or more linked cases involving an on-campus transmission of the infection.

The second-week data show some improvement. Although 4,000 students were in quarantine for one or more days, up from 3,500, the number of student infections declined from 2,000 in the first week to 1,500 in the second. Infections among staff declined from 200 to 130. Staff quarantines dropped from 500 to 190. Infection rates for students and staff also declined.

UTLA President Cecily Myart-Cruz previously said, “Vaccines are like seatbelts: necessary but not invincible.”

“Just like we need seatbelts, airbags, and speed limits, we need masks, ventilation, and testing to keep school communities safe,” she said.


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