The National Education Association (NEA), the largest teachers’ union in the United States, on Thursday said it supports mandatory vaccination or regular COVID-19 testing for educators as students return to classrooms for the new school year.
NEA President Becky Pringle said her organization, which represents 3 million public school employees, needs to “follow the science” since the beginning of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic and believes that vaccines are “most effective” in preventing infection of the virus.
“As we enter a new school year amidst a rapidly spreading Delta variant and lagging public vaccination rates, it is clear that the vaccination of those eligible is one of the most effective ways to keep schools safe, and they must be coupled with other proven mitigation strategies,” Pringle said in a statement.
“We also support regular COVID-19 testing in lieu of vaccination for those not yet vaccinated or those for whom vaccination is not medically appropriate or effective,” she added. “We believe that such vaccine requirements and accommodations are an appropriate, responsible, and necessary step to ensure the safety of our school communities and to protect our students.”
Pringle also noted that 90 percent of NEA members report they are fully vaccinated. By contrast, 71 percent of American adults have now received at least one vaccine dose, while just a little more than half of the total U.S. population has been fully vaccinated, according to the latest statistics by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The NEA endorsement of vaccine and testing mandates comes after California became the first state in the nation to require all school employees to either get vaccinated or submit to regular testings.
Under the new order issued by the California Department of Public Health, public and private schools serving students in transitional K–12 must verify and trace all their workers’ vaccination status. Workers who are not fully vaccinated will be considered unvaccinated.
Asymptomatic unvaccinated or incompletely vaccinated workers, according to the order, must be tested at least once weekly with either PCR/molecular testing or antigen testing. Those who have recovered from COVID-19 more than 90 days earlier, or those with a previous positive antibody test, will not be exempted from the testing requirement.
The 310,000-member California Teachers Association, an NEA affiliate, applauded the new policy, calling it “an appropriate next step to ensure the safety of our school communities and to protect our youngest learners” against the Delta variant.