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A man receives a COVID-19 vaccine from a nurse in the gymnasium at Whitney M. Young Elementary School on April 2 in Louisville, Kentucky. Photo: Jon Cherry/Getty Images

The largest teachers' union in the country said Thursday that they support vaccine and testing mandates, per a statement from the union's president.

Why it matters: National Education Association president Becky Pringle had previously said that mandates should be negotiated at the local level but that those who can get vaccinated, should do so. The union represents more than 3 million teachers and school faculty members.

  • Another major teachers union, the American Federation of Teachers, on Wednesday stopped short of supporting vaccine mandates for its members, per Politico but AFT president Randi Weingarten said Sunday that the Delta variant was "alarming" and expressed an openness to vaccine mandates.

The big picture: "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," NEA president Becky Pringle said.

  • The announcement comes amid rising cases of coronavirus, especially among children under 12 who are not eligible for the vaccine, and as students and teachers prepare to return to school.

Driving the news: Currently, about 90% of NEA members are fully vaccinated, per the statement.

  • The union urges accommodations, including paid leave, for employees who get vaccinated. "Employee input, including collective bargaining where applicable, is critical," Pringle said.
  • For individuals who do not get vaccinated due to medical exemptions, the NEA supports regular COVID-19 testing.
  • "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 said.

Go deeper

Linh Ta, author of Des Moines
Nov 19, 2021 - Axios Des Moines

Des Moines pays teachers $30 an hour to cover classes amid "perfect storm" of absences

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

The Des Moines school board approved Oct. 19 paying teachers $30 an hour if they lose their planning time to cover as a substitute teacher in another classroom.

Why it matters: That planning time is typically used to prepare classroom instruction, grade papers and catch up on work. But without it, burnt-out teachers are working extra at home.

Nov 19, 2021 - Health

The new COVID war: Redefining vaccinated

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

As health officials push COVID booster shots, a debate is quickly emerging around whether the definition of "fully vaccinated" should be changed to include an additional dose of the vaccine.

Why it matters: Booster shots provide remarkably strong protection against coronavirus infections, at least for a period of time. But getting the majority of Americans to stick out their arm again would be extremely challenging.

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Axios-Ipsos poll: Omicron's big numbersAnother wave of death — FDA limits use of Regeneron and Lilly antibody treatments — Fauci: "Confident" Omicron cases will peak in February.
  2. Vaccines: Pfizer begins clinical trial for Omicron-specific vaccine — The shifting definition of fully vaccinated.
  3. Politics: Biden admin withdraws temporary vaccine-or-test mandate for large employers — New York Supreme Court strikes down Gov. Hochul's mask mandate for public areas — Sarah Palin tests positive, delaying defamation trial — Virginia school boards sue Gov. Youngkin for lifting mask mandate.
  4. World: U.K. to lift travel testing requirement for fully vaccinated — Beijing Olympic Committee lowers testing threshold ahead of Games.
  5. Variant tracker