The Los Angeles Unified School District has agreed to push back the deadline for when employees must be fully vaccinated until next month, following a recent warning by one of its labor groups that the nation’s second-largest K-12 system could face dire staffing shortages if they insisted that employees get their second dose by mid-October.
Employees now have until Nov. 15 to receive their second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine and will only need to have gotten their first dose by this Friday, which is also the deadline for getting the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, district officials noted during a town hall over the weekend to provide information about the vaccines.
Previously, the district had said employees had until the end of this work week to get their second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine.
“The health and safety of all in the Los Angeles Unified community is of utmost importance,” the district said in a statement Monday, adding that the latest changes to the staff mandate “both protect the health and safety of all students and employees and also … ensure that all employees are able to be vaccinated with the COVID-19 vaccine of their choice.”
Service Employees International Union Local 99, which represents nearly 30,000 custodians, food service workers, bus drivers, special education assistants and other classified employees at LAUSD, had previously asked the district to extend the deadline for staff to receive their second dose to Oct. 31, warning of a potentially disastrous staffing shortage if employees are ordered to stay home for failing to meet a mid-October deadline.
“We are headed towards a cliff that will have a dire impact on students who rely on the essential services provided by SEIU Local 99 members and thousands of working families employed by the district, a majority of them in our Black and Brown communities,” SEIU Local 99 executive director Max Arias had said in September.
On Monday, SEIU announced that the union and district had agreed to the deadline extension late last week.
“The extension of the vaccination requirement timeline will ensure that we can continue to maintain a safe and healthy environment for students and staff and minimize disruption of services as we continue to face the challenges of the pandemic,” the union said.
According to the district’s updated policy, employees must receive at least one dose of vaccine by this Friday to continue reporting to work. They won’t face possible separation from the district — which could include unpaid leave or firing — as long as they get their second shot by mid-November. The district is also working to reassign unvaccinated employees to remote work, though not everyone may be accommodated.
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Employees without proof of any vaccination by the end of this work week won’t be subject to employer separation until Nov. 1 and would continue to be paid through Oct. 31, according to the agreement between SEIU and the district.
A spokesperson for SEIU said that based on information from the district, the union believes about 80% of its members are either partially or fully vaccinated.
Two weeks ago, the district had estimated that 80% of all LAUSD employees had been vaccinated, though that figure did not include workers who were fully vaccinated but hadn’t uploaded their records. It was not immediately known Monday whether that figure had changed.