Unvaccinated teachers at LAUSD Virtual Academy could lose their jobs in months – Daily News
For 36 years, teacher Janet Bregman worked for the Los Angeles Unified School District. Now, three years from her planned retirement date, she said she was forced to get a COVID-19 shot or retire early.
If she chooses the latter, Bregman, who teaches at the district’s online Virtual Academy, will not only miss out on three more years of salary, but, she estimates, she would receive about $1,500 less in monthly retirement benefits. .
“I fight for my job. I am fighting for my financial security,” Bregman said Monday, May 16, at a rally of about three dozen educators and parents who oppose the district’s vaccination mandate for staff.
The press conference outside LAUSD headquarters was called in response to notices some Virtual Academy teachers said they received on Friday evening, informing them that due to low online registration, they would not be called back to work in one of the virtual academies next year. .
The letter, a copy of which was shared with reporters, said employees had three options: get vaccinated so they can teach in person, actually take leave if entitled to it, or resign or retire at the end of June.
Those choosing to get vaccinated or resign or retire should notify district staff by Friday. Failure to choose one of those options could result in “potential separation” from the district, the letter says.
On Monday, the district released a statement reiterating students’ lesser need for online educators.
“As students who had chosen to participate in our Virtual Academy return to in-person learning, the number of online assignments available has decreased,” the district said. “Approval of reasonable accommodations for placement in the Virtual Academy has always been subject to availability and not a guaranteed assignment.”
The district did not respond to a question about how many employees were told there would be no positions for them at the Virtual Academy in the fall.
LA Unified announced its COVID-19 vaccination mandate for staff last August, then transferred those who did not comply to remote positions or furloughed them beginning in mid-October. In December, the district began firing people who failed to comply with the mandate. At least 600 employees were laid off, but it’s unclear how many were classroom teachers.
On Monday, the group of unvaccinated employees said they were ready and willing to return to their former assignments and that the district should allow them to teach in person. Recently, Superintendent Alberto Carvalho made the decision to deploy non-classroom graduate employees to classrooms to fill teaching vacancies.
Substitute teacher Elga Shelafoe questioned the logic of applying the vaccination mandate to staff only. Although she did not receive a letter informing her that there would be no remote position for her next school year, she attended Monday’s event to support other workers.
She pointed out that the school board voted last week to delay the district’s vaccination mandate for students until at least July 2023.
“If you allow students to come back (this fall) unvaccinated, what is the science that adults can’t come back and teach?” she asked.
Bregman, meanwhile, said employees did not receive an explanation of how the district determined which staff members would not be invited back to teach at a virtual academy.
When primary teachers are displaced due to low enrolment, educators with fewer years of experience are fired before others, she said. But that doesn’t seem to be the case here, she said, even though most primary school teachers hold the same multi-subject teaching qualification that allows them to teach at any level, from kindergarten to the 6th year.
When asked if she’d rather retire early and lose income than get vaccinated, Bregman seemed resolute in her decision.
“I’m not going to put anything new in my body that I’m not aware of, that I’m not sure about,” she said. “We shouldn’t have to put something in our body that we don’t choose.”