A Los Angeles teachers union has backed off its demand for mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for all eligible students enrolled in the nation’s second-largest school district.
According to The Los Angeles Times, however, “The move appears to be more about bargaining strategy rather than a lack of support for the move.”
The Times previously obtained a document dated August 26 that had been submitted at the bargaining table by United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA). The union had requested that students who had 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. But the latest contract proposal dated September 2 indicates “the union is no longer insisting on a mandate as part of an enforceable agreement with the district,” The Times reported.
“We continue to support a vaccine requirement for all eligible students to keep our schools safer and to help protect the most vulnerable among us, including children too young to be vaccinated,” said UTLA President Cecily Myart-Cruz, per the Times.
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.
The Times provided more details:
District officials had crossed out the student-mandate demand in their own counter. In interviews with The Times, they said that a student vaccine mandate was simply not an appropriate topic for bargaining and would be considered separately as a matter of policy.
LAUSD implemented strict coronavirus protocols in preparation for returning to in-person instruction 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 staff member returning to campus take part in weekly COVID-19 testing, regardless of vaccination status. The district has also ordered all employees to be fully vaccinated by October 15. In addition, indoor and outdoor mask mandates are in place on campuses.
Thousands of LAUSD students who tested positive or were possibly exposed to the virus have remained isolated at home in quarantine since the new school year began. The increase in infections has been primarily attributed to the Delta variant.
UTLA’s latest proposal also waters down its previous calls for more stringent quarantine rules.
UTLA also backed off its demand that a single coronavirus case would trigger the automatic quarantine of entire elementary classrooms, regardless of how many students or staff were exposed. Currently, only “close contacts” — students or staff who’ve spent more than 15 minutes within six feet of a positive case — must quarantine.
But the union has added a new demand: LAUSD recently revised its policy to allow staff and students who may have been exposed to skip quarantines if they’re vaccinated. That move aligned LAUSD with the L.A. County Department of Public Health’s latest guidance to K-12 schools.
The union disagrees and is demanding all close contacts quarantine, regardless of their vaccination status.
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