The Los Angeles Unified School District announced its teachers and staff must be fully vaccinated by October 15.

Unvaccinated staff was previously given the option to submit weekly negative COVID-19 tests in lieu of vaccination, but the option will no longer apply after the vaccination deadline.

“The science is clear — vaccinations are an essential part of protection against COVID-19,” Interim Superintendent Megan K. Reilly said in a statement Friday. “To date, our safety measures include daily health checks for everyone going onto school campuses, masks, comprehensive COVID-19 testing, contact tracing and isolation of cases, hand sanitizer, increased sanitization/cleaning of schools and upgraded ventilation. This additional step goes above local and federal health guidelines in order to provide another layer of safety in our schools, especially for our youngest learners.”

There will be medical and religious exemptions considered and refusal could lead to “disciplinary action” in the form of unpaid leave.

United Teachers Los Angeles, who represent teachers in L.A., said they support the vaccination mandate.

“I am the parent of an LAUSD fifth-grader, and my family has been going through the same uncertainty and anguish as so many other families as we approach the return to school,” UTLA President Cecily Myart-Cruz said. “Because of the protocols that UTLA educators and LAUSD families fought for and won, LA Unified has among the strictest COVID safety protocols in the country. But this Delta variant is unlike anything we have seen so far in this crisis — especially its impact on children — and we all need to step up to do our part to protect the most vulnerable among us.”

The new district mandate is stricter than the California state mandate, which allows school employees to opt for weekly testing if not vaccinated.

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