LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- All Los Angeles Unified School District employees will be required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Oct. 15, interim Superintendent Megan K. Reilly announced Friday.
The district had previously mandated only weekly testing for all students and staffers, regardless of their vaccination status. That testing requirement will remain in place.
"The science is clear -- vaccinations are an essential part of protection against COVID-19," Reilly said in a statement. "To date, our safety measures include daily health checks for everyone going onto school campuses, masks, comprehensive COVID-19 testing, contact tracing and isolation of cases, hand sanitizer, increased sanitization/cleaning of schools and upgraded ventilation. This additional step goes above local and federal health guidelines in order to provide another layer of safety in our schools, especially for our youngest learners."
According to the district, LAUSD will consider medical or religious exemptions from the vaccine requirement. For employees who fail to comply with the mandate, the district "may take disciplinary action, including but not limited to placement on unpaid leave and/or separation from service."
The mandate has the support of the Board of Directors of the district's powerful teachers union, united Teachers Los Angeles. According to the union, its board voted "overwhelmingly" to support a vaccine mandate for all employees. The board had previously voted only not to oppose a mandate.
"I am the parent of an LAUSD fifth-grader, and my family has been going through the same uncertainty and anguish as so many other families as we approach the return to school," UTLA President Cecily Myart-Cruz said.
L.A. Unified's fall classes are set to begin Monday.
Friday's announcement comes two days after Gov. Gavin Newsom said that California will become the first state in the nation to require all teachers and school staff to get vaccinated or undergo weekly COVID-19 testing, amid growing concerns about the highly contagious delta variant.
The new policy applies to both public and private schools and will affect more than 800,000 employees, including about 320,000 public school teachers and a host of support staff such as cafeteria workers and cleaners, the state Department of Public Health said. It will also apply to school volunteers.
City News Service and the Associated Press contributed to this report.