Gov. Newsom says schools may not reopen if COVID-19 vaccination for all teachers, staff required

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Gov. Gavin Newsom says if vaccines for all teachers and staff are a condition for reopening schools then schools might not reopen at all this academic year.

According to Politico, the governor said on Thursday "If everybody has to be vaccinated, we might as well just tell people the truth, there will be no in-person instruction in the state of California."

The governor wants students in transitional kindergarten through second grade to return to campus in a couple weeks and some schools are on schedule to go back then.

But there has been major pushback from some districts and teachers unions.

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Newsom has prioritized teachers in his vaccination rollout, but because of supply and distribution issues, teachers below the age of 65 haven't had the opportunity to get the vaccine. Vaccinations are a demand made by the California Teachers Association for teachers to return to the classroom this school year.

"I want to put Gov. Newsom on the spot and I also want to put our county officials on the spot as well. Make it safe," said Cecily Myart-Cruz, president of United Teachers Los Angeles, the union representing LAUSD teachers.

LAUSD school board member Nick Melvoin says LAUSD is not a public health department, so it's not the district's decision when to reopen, even though the numbers are headed in the right direction.

"It's incredibly frustrating. When the county has guidance that says schools can bring back up to 25% of high-need students, but the public health director is saying publicly as recently as early last week, 'I don't think any students should be back on campus,' parents are asking what is it?" Melvoin said.

Another issue frustrating UTLA and LAUSD is California and L.A. County's decision to reopen businesses, but not schools.

"We are yet again reopening restaurants, gyms, card rooms - whatever those are - before schools, when we know that has prevented places like L.A. from turning the corner," Melvoin said. "It's really ludicrous."

But some school districts like the Newhall School District in the Santa Clarita Valley have obtained a waiver and plan to reopen four grades of elementary school students for in-person instruction on Feb. 8.

If the Newhall plan of operating transitional kindergarten through second grade works, they hope to open school for third through sixth grades this year.
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