Facing major campus disruption and firings, LAUSD extends staff COVID-vaccine deadline

Posted 5 days ago

From WWW.LATIMES.COM

The Los Angeles school district — confronted with widespread campus disruption and the firing of potentially thousands of unvaccinated teachers and other staff — has extended the looming deadline for all workers to be fully immunized for COVID-19.

The prior deadline of Oct. 15 — this Friday— has been moved to Nov. 15, when employees must have received a second of two-doses of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, according to a brief district statement. The district did not clearly state a timetable for the single dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

The district declined Monday to provide an updated number or percentage of teachers and other employees who have failed to clear the vaccination requirement. At a Sept. 27 board meeting, officials stated that about 1 in 5 employees, possibly well over 10,000 people, had not yet provided evidence of vaccination. The district also declined to report how many employees have applied for religious or medical exemptions or how many have been approved.

The extension comes as the nation’s second-largest school system has struggled to fill more than 2,000 teaching and other vacancies, including counselors, nurses and maintenance staff. The hiring figures were reported Sept. 27.

Local 99 of the Service Employees International Union, which represents most non-teaching employees, including large numbers of lower-wage workers, pushed for the extension in contract negotiations. The union provided a copy of a “side letter agreement,” dated last Friday, which lays out the basic terms. The agreement is signed by a representative of the union and a representative of L. A. Unified.

The purpose of the extension is “to ensure that workers will have sufficient time to be fully vaccinated,” the union said in a post on its website. The extension will enable staff “to maintain a safe and healthy environment ... and minimize disruption of services as we continue to face the challenges of the pandemic.”

In early August, L. A. Unified announced that all employees must be fully vaccinated by Oct. 15 or they would not be able to work on campus. Because maximum immunity is achieved two weeks after the final dose, the effective deadline for receiving a final shot was actually about Oct. 1.

The August announcement was intended to give an estimated 75,000 employees enough time to reach full immunity on a two-shot regimen. The L. A. Unified requirement was endorsed by the teachers union and some other employee unions. No union openly opposed it.

An employee who has not received a first shot by Oct. 15, will be suspended with pay and not allowed on campus as of Monday, Oct. 18. However, once employees receive a shot — prior to Oct. 31 — they would be able to return to work while they await a second dose, according to the union. Employees who refuse to be vaccinated will lose their jobs, but will be paid at least through October.

Unvaccinated employees will “not be subject to separation from district service,” as long as they receive a first shot by Oct. 15 and a second shot, if necessary, by Nov. 15.

The district declined to provide information in response to multip... (Read more)