Los Angeles Teachers Union Calls for Vaccine Mandate and Stricter COVID-19 Protocols

By Jack Bradley
Jack Bradley
Jack Bradley
Jack Bradley is a daily news reporter for The Epoch Times based in Southern California.
September 2, 2021 Updated: September 2, 2021

United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) is calling for a COVID-19 vaccine mandate, along with stricter quarantine rules for all eligible students in Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD).

UTLA also announced support for a vaccine mandate for eligible students in the wake of the FDA’s full approval of the Pfizer COVID vaccine, UTLA said in an Aug. 30 statement.

“This aligns with UTLA support for the educator vaccine mandate implemented by LAUSD and will keep our schools safer as well as positively contributing to the higher community vaccination rates needed to reverse the surge in infections,” the statement reads.

In an Aug. 27 email to UTLA members, the teacher’s union said it was “pushing the district to immediately quarantine the entire class if the teacher or one of the students tests positive for COVID-19 in an EEC, Early Education, or TK-6 classroom.”

UTLA also called for all eligible students to be vaccinated within 12 weeks of their 12th birthday.

“This is a prudent and necessary safety measure in view of the recent number of positive tests at several schools, the outbreak reported at Grant Elementary, and the fact that students under 12 can’t be vaccinated yet,” UTLA said in an email to its members.

LAUSD announced last month that all faculty and staff members must be fully vaccinated by Oct. 15, which is more stringent than the state’s requirement of teachers and staff to be either vaccinated or undergo weekly testing.

Regardless of vaccination status, all students, teachers, and staff in LAUSD are currently required to undergo weekly COVID-19 testing.

LAUSD hasn’t announced whether it will mandate the vaccine for all eligible students. However, it wouldn’t be the first district to implement such a mandate, as the Culver City Unified School District implemented a vaccine mandate for its students last month.

UTLA met with LAUSD on Aug. 27 and Aug. 30 to negotiate a Continuity of Learning plan to apply stricter quarantine protocols than the district had in place.

UTLA’s proposal includes giving classroom teachers the choice of either using a classroom camera to provide instruction to quarantined students, or instead meeting with quarantined students during scheduled office hours.

“The office hours would allow for small groups of students to meet in a more direct way with their instructor and would offer students and families more flexibility to access instruction,” UTLA said in an email.

LAUSD announced its Interim Continuity of Learning Plan on Aug. 30, which stipulates that teachers must provide instruction to their students via a web conference tool, like Zoom, when the entire class is in quarantine. If only a few students are quarantined, the in-class lessons will be livestreamed.

“Students and families need clear expectations and support for learning at home while they’re asked to isolate or quarantine,” Interim Superintendent Megan K. Reilly said in a statement.

“This plan serves as an interim guide for educators and supporting students during this difficult and unique time.”

UTLA sent an Aug. 30 email to its members claiming the district implemented the Continuity of Learning proposal “without having reached a bargaining agreement as required by law and without it being vetted by parents and educators.”

“To be disrespected while pushing ourselves to the limit is unacceptable. For the sake of our students, we need a partner running the district—not a top-down bureaucrat,” UTLA President Cecily Myart-Cruz said in a statement, referring to Reilly.

The teachers union said it will file an unfair labor practice charge with the public employment relations board and continue bringing proposals to the Continuity of Learning program.

“Collective bargaining and open lines of communication have been critical to saving lives and implementing key safety mandates during this pandemic,” UTLA Bargaining Chair Arlene Inouye said in a statement. “For LAUSD to ignore the need for ongoing collaboration at this sensitive time is irresponsible.”

The union’s demands were posted on the Instagram page UTLA Uncensored.

Jack Bradley
Jack Bradley is a daily news reporter for The Epoch Times based in Southern California.