The Coachella Valley Unified School District's Board of Education passed a mandate that will require all staff members, including teachers, custodians, aides and bus drivers, to be fully vaccinated by January 10th, 2022.
“I think the Board felt for our district and our community, this was the safest way to keep our kids healthy,” said Joey Acuña Jr., President, CVUSD Board.
The new policy comes as California prepares to require all schoolchildren to get a COVID-19 vaccine sometime next year after FDA approval.
“A lot of the parents said, rightfully so, if all the students have to get vaccinated...why not all the staff?” said Acuña.
The district defines ‘fully vaccinated’ as two weeks after receiving the second dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or the single dose of Johnson and Johnson.
They say employees can submit medical or religious exemptions.
The new mandate is stronger than the current statewide mandate, which requires all school employees to be either fully vaccinated or comply with weekly COVID-19 testing. As of right now, district data shows that about 400 CVUSD employees get tested weekly.
News Channel 3’s Madison Weil spoke with Carissa Carrera, President of the Coachella Valley Teacher’s Association, about the decision.
“Have you heard from any teachers who have expressed a desire to leave the district because of this new mandate?” asked Weil.
“I have heard from some prior to the mandate...that said if they ever make it a mandate, I’m going to leave,” Carrera replied.
Carrera says it’s a choice staff members will have to make: either get vaccinated or be placed on unpaid leave. She says after the mandate passed, the association was able to negotiate an MOU ensuring that people could get time off to get vaccinated and paid time off if they have side effects.
“That’s what we as a union were able to do on behalf of the members...making sure they didn’t have to do this on their own time or use their own personal sick leave,” she said.
CVUSD says they will continue to host vaccine clinics at various sites to make it easier for staff members and families.
As for the other two districts, PSUSD and DSUSD say they will continue to follow state requirements for now, allowing staff members to choose between vaccination or weekly testing.