Concerns Raised About COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate

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San Diego (KGTV) – In addition to eligible students, ages 16 and older, all staff in the San Diego Unified School District will need to be vaccinated before the end of this year, unless they have an exemption . But, some educators say they need more information as the deadline is fast approaching.

“People are feeling very stressed right now, and that only adds to that stress,” said Kisha Borden, president of the San Diego Education Association. The union represents approximately 6,500 educators throughout the district.

The district administration board voted unanimously to put in place a COVID-19 vaccine mandate just days before Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a statewide mandate for all schools , which is expected to come into effect next year. It’s an effort to keep schools open and students in classrooms, while reducing the spread of the coronavirus.

“We don’t know how many teachers we’re going to lose. We don’t even know what the district’s plan is for those who don’t buy into politics, ”Borden said.

According to the district, around 76% of employees are currently fully immunized.

By December 20, they expect all employees, partners and contractors to receive their second dose of vaccine or to be already fully immunized.

The district said it was a condition of employment; However, Borden said they haven’t worked out more than that yet.

“What is the consequence if someone does not respect this deadline, is he fired, is he put on leave? We don’t know we haven’t received further information from the district, ”Borden said.

She said another big concern is that if many teachers are fired and resign during tenure, what will happen to their students?

“These teachers who are vaccinated wonder what does this mean for those of us who might be left behind if people were released? Where are these students going? Who will cover these courses? ” she said.

Borden said a recent survey of union members found the majority of respondents supported the mandate, but some said they refused to be vaccinated.

She now hopes the district sheds light as the deadline for getting the first dose is next month.

“Any information they can share, especially around the exemption process,” she said. “Our members who are not yet vaccinated really want to know, what should I do now?

She fears that recent terms may create further staff shortages in the district and even that some teachers will quit the profession altogether.

“There has been a shortage of teachers for at least five years,” she said. “We have seen a decline in the number of students graduating from teaching, and that only exacerbates that. I don’t know if the district has a plan for what will happen after December 20, ”she said.

ABC 10News has contacted a spokesperson for San Diego Unified to try to get some of these questions answered; they said now that the council has approved the mandate, the district is working on an implementation plan that will include conversations with unions. The spokesperson said the district also sent a letter to all unions the day after the board approved the vaccine requirement, telling them who to contact to answer questions and meet.

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