Hundreds of Los Angeles school employees have been fired for not complying with a district vaccine requirement, the Los Angeles Unified School District said.
As of Tuesday, 496 LAUSD employees were terminated but may be eligible to get their jobs back if they chose to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
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“We care deeply about all of our employees,” Interim Superintendent Megan Reilly said in a statement. “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. We wish everyone the best in their future endeavors and encourage everyone to get vaccinated.”
The district, the second largest in the United States, initially set an Oct. 15 deadline for its 73,000 employees to be fully vaccinated. That date was eventually extended to Nov. 15.
As a result, nearly 99% of LAUSD employees chose to get vaccinated, the district said.
“While we support and encourage vaccination for our entire school community, we believe LAUSD’s punitive approach is shutting the doors on experienced and dedicated school workers and exacerbating staffing shortages that already existed before the pandemic that, ultimately, affect student services,” the SEIU Local 99, the union representing many district employees, told Fox News in a statement.
“We continue in negotiations with the district and are demanding that LAUSD honor the re-employment rights of workers by following a reduction-in-force process which will grant all workers up to 39 months to return to LAUSD when they are vaccinated,” the statement continued.
Students eligible for the vaccine have until Jan. 10, 2022 to be fully vaccinated unless they have a qualified exemption.
About 85% percent of the district’s nearly 630,000 students have complied with the mandate that those 12 and older get vaccinated.
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“The science is clear – vaccinations are safe and effective and are an essential part of the multi-layered protection against COVID-19,” an LAUSD statement said.