The United Los Angeles Teacher’s Union gave the okay on Monday to drop L.A. Unified School District’s indoor mask mandate, ratifying an agreement that retained additional precautionary demands.
LAUSD’s students and staff members will be able to attend schools without masks beginning Wednesday. The mandate remains for staff and students at early education centers serving students four years old or younger.
UTLA President Cecily Myart-Cruz said keeping the mandate for the younger students who are not able to get vaccinated against COVID was crucial.
“UTLA educators, parents, and our school communities have fought for LAUSD to be the vanguard of health and safety in public education across the nation during this pandemic— an accomplishment due in large part to the weekly testing program and the strong safety protocols we’ve bargained with the district,” Myart-Cruz said in a statement. “As we monitor the trajectory of the virus, we will continue to put health and safety first.”
Of the UTLA members who participated in the vote, 84 percent voted in favor of the agreement (15,466) and 16 percent were against it (2,954).
As stated in the agreement, the UTLA still demands that the District “make every effort” to conduct PCR COVID testing on a weekly basis for all employees and students until the end of the school year. The group plans to discuss the District’s testing policy in mid-April and mid-May.
In addition, take-home rapid-antigen tests and KN95 or N95 masks are to be provided to students and staff, with both being “strongly recommended.”
The agreement is set to expire on June 30, 2022, though another will likely be proposed based on the upcoming school year.
Just last week, LAUSD parents held a protest outside of UTLA headquarters against the mask mandate.
A February poll conducted by the Institute of Governmental Studies at UC Berkley revealed that roughly two-thirds of California voters supported mask and vaccinate mandates in K-12 schools.
UTLA previously expressed their support for keeping the mandate, saying, “It is premature to discuss removing these health and safety measures while there are still many unvaccinated youth in our early education programs and schools.”
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