Largest Teacher’s Union Throws Support Behind Vaccination or Testing
The country’s largest teachers’ union on Thursday offered its support for policies that would require all teachers to be vaccinated against Covid or undergo regular testing.
This is the latest in a rapid series of changes that could make widespread vaccine needs for teachers more likely as the highly contagious Delta variant spreads across the United States.
“It is clear that immunizing eligible people is one of the most effective ways to keep schools safe,” Becky Pringle, president of the National Education Association, said in a statement.
The announcement comes after Randi Weingarten, the powerful leader of the American Federation of Teachers, another major education union, signaled on Sunday her strongest support yet for vaccination mandates.
Ms Pringle left open the possibility that teachers who are not vaccinated could undergo regular testing instead, and added that “the contribution of local employees, including collective bargaining where appropriate, is essential.”
His union’s support for some demands is notable as it represents around three million members across the country, including in many rural and suburban districts where adults are less likely to be vaccinated. Overall, according to the union, nearly 90 percent of its members report being fully immunized.
Yet any decision to require immunization of teachers is likely to come at the local or state level. And even with their growing support, the teachers’ unions have maintained that their locals should negotiate the details.
“We believe these vaccine requirements and accommodations are an appropriate, responsible and necessary step,” Ms. Pringle said Thursday. She added that “educators need to have a say in how vaccine requirements are implemented.”
California has ordered all teachers and staff to provide proof of vaccination or undergo weekly testing, an order that applies to both public and private schools. Hawaii requires all state and county employees to be vaccinated or tested, including public school teachers. And Denver said city employees, including public school teachers, must be fully immunized by September 30.
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