Oct 12, 2021 - Economy & Business

LA extends deadline for school employee vaccinations amid staffing shortage

Photo of children sitting in a classroom raising their hands

The first day of school at Montara Avenue Elementary School in California. Photo: Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

The Los Angeles school district has extended its deadline for staff to get the COVID vaccine from Oct. 15 to Nov. 15.

Why it matters: The second-largest school district in the nation, the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) has struggled to fill thousands of vacancies, including teachers, counselors and maintenance staff, per the Los Angeles Times.

  • One in five employees remained unvaccinated as of Sept. 27.

Details: Employees who have secured at least one dose by Oct. 15 will be allowed to continue working as long as they get their second shot by Nov. 15.

  • Employees without a record of any vaccination by Oct. 15 will not be "subject to separation from District service" before Nov. 1. They'll remain paid until Oct. 31.

What they're saying: "We don’t want people to be out of jobs," interim superintendent Megan Reilly told the Times. "Our employees are one of the strongest assets that we have."

  • Reilly stressed, however, that "we’re absolutely adamant about keeping our schools the safest possible environment — and vaccinations are clearly the pathway to keeping them safe."

The big picture: The district issued its mandate in early August, requiring its roughly 73,000 staff members to get the vaccine by Oct. 15 or face unpaid leave or termination.

  • LAUSD is allowing religious or medical exemptions, though it's unclear how many have been issued.
  • The vaccine mandate was endorsed by the teachers union and some other employee unions, though Local 99 of Service Employees International Union, which represents most non-teaching employees and lower-wage workers, pressed the district to extend the vaccine deadline in recent contract negotiations.

Worth noting: In September, LAUSD became the first major school district to require vaccines for students.

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