ALHAMBRA, Calif. (KABC) -- A few dozen teachers and employees of Alhambra Unified School District held a demonstration on Monday, saying they were being forced to take unpaid leave for refusing to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
The district says the school board in August issued a requirement that all 2,100 employees needed to be vaccinated by Oct. 31.
Starting Monday, five teachers and 52 classified employees were placed on unpaid leave for refusing to do so.
Some employees told Eyewitness News they had requested religious exemptions, but were rejected.
"We're all trying to stay strong and stay true to our beliefs," said district employee Diana Vasquez. "The district is really asking us to violate our personal religious beliefs in order to continue our jobs."
It has not been determined yet when "unpaid leave" becomes "fired."
A district spokesperson says they're abiding by Los Angeles County Department of Public Health guidelines. The demonstrators hope something can be worked out to let them return to their jobs.
The district has 19 school sites, with more than 15,500 students.
A distict statement read in part:
"School districts are a people business and a hub for communities. Our first overriding duty is to keep 15,557 TK-12 students and the parents and grandparents they go home to and our employees safe and healthy.
For this reason, the Board mandated COVID-19 vaccines for all 2100 employees. All but 57 of those employees are vaccinated.
We understand the deeply personal decision to not get vaccinated. However all our employees work on campus (even teachers at our virtual learning academy) and those that aren't vaccinated put others at risk."