Faced with getting a COVID-19 vaccine or losing their jobs, thousands of hesitant Los Angeles school-district employees opted for a last-minute jab, allowing them to access schools and offices on Monday and resulting in 99% compliance among classroom teachers and 97% of all employees.
The high compliance rate — which includes those with an approved medical or religious exemption — fended off the need for a longer-term contingency plan that officials launched Monday in case the final vaccination rates were lower: Thousands of supervisors and staff from central and regional offices were deployed to campuses and classrooms. Some supervised classrooms or filled in for missing custodians and food-service workers. Police officers worked overtime.
Los Angeles — widely viewed as a national leader in COVID-19 safety measures — was among the first major school districts in the nation to issue an ultimatum to all employees amid the summer Delta surge: Get vaccinated or lose your job. The mandate came with the risk of serious disruption in the nation’s second-largest school district, already struggling to fill a high number of teacher and other vacancies.
Yet the strategy has appeared to work as intended. Members of the administrators union got up to 99.4%. A small fraction of teachers, about 240, apparently opted against vaccination.
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