Less than one percent of Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) employees were fired after failing to comply with a COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
On Tuesday, the school board moved to fire 496 of the district’s approximately 73,000 workers.
Most of the staff had probably been on leave since mid-October, when LAUSD employees were supposed to have gotten their first dose at minimum, according to the Los Angeles Daily News. The second dose was required by November 15.
Of those fired, 418 were employees with no credentials but important staff, like instructional aides, cafeteria workers, custodians and others.
“Parting ways with individuals who choose not to be vaccinated is an extremely difficult, but necessary decision to ensure the safety of all in our school communities,” interim Superintendent Megan Reilly said in a statement. “We wish everyone the best in their future endeavors and encourage everyone to get vaccinated.”
A district spokesperson Tuesday said that those terminated could potentially be re-employed if they become vaccinated, the L.A. Daily News reported.
There also are about 600 other LAUSD employees that have refused to comply with the mandate due to possible medical or religious exemptions under review, Board Vice President Nick Melvoin said Tuesday, according to the L.A. Daily News. He expects there to be more terminations or settlements in the upcoming weeks.
Meanwhile, around 34,000 students have also not been vaccinated as mandated for children ages 12 and older, the L.A. Daily News also reported. These students no longer have time to become fully vaccinated before January 10, the start of the second semester, according to the Los Angeles Times.
LAUSD is one of several large districts in California to adopt their own rules requiring students to get the COVID-19 vaccination, ahead of a statewide policy that will take effect after federal officials fully approve the immunizations by age group.
The state policy, announced by Governor Gavin Newsom in October, is not expected to go into place before July, but the precise date is still unknown.
Districts including San Diego Unified, Sacramento City Unified, Oakland and West Contra Costa are among those that have deadlines for student vaccine policies scheduled to take effect in early of 2022. The policies vary according to district, with some allowing students to opt for weekly testing and others making the shot a requirement for in-person classes.
In Los Angeles, students who are not fully vaccinated—or exempt—will be forced into the district’s independent study program or will have to leave the Los Angeles public school system.
Shifting 34,000 students into independent study would be challenging because the program faces staffing shortages, according to the Times.
In a statement Wednesday, Los Angeles Unified said about 85 percent of the district’s approximately 600,000 students are in compliance with the mandate requiring those 12 and older to get their COVID-19 shots.
That percentage includes students who have received at least one vaccine dose, individuals with a medical exemption or those who qualify for conditional admission to the district, the Times reported. This last group include homeless or foster youths, students whose families are in the military and certain special education students.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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