Nearly 500 public school employees in Los Angeles were fired after refusing to comply with a Covid-19 vaccine mandate, with the city making terminations permanent after previously suspending a number of workers.
The board of the LA Unified School District voted 7-0 to cancel 496 employee contracts on Tuesday, according to the Associated Press, after they missed a deadline to become fully immunized by November 15. Those who declined to take their first dose in mid-October had previously been placed on leave.
"Parting ways with individuals who choose not to be vaccinated is an extremely difficult, but necessary decision to ensure the safety of all in our school communities," interim district Superintendent Megan Reilly said after the vote. "We wish everyone the best in their future endeavors and encourage everyone to get vaccinated."
Though most of the fired employees were non-credentialed staff, some served in critical roles, including custodians, cafeteria workers and teacher's aides, among other positions.
In contrast to many districts around the country, LA's has established its own Covid-19 vaccine mandate for staff and students alike, getting ahead of a statewide requirement that will only come into effect once federal agencies hammer out approvals for all age groups. Currently, Los Angeles is urging students to meet a January 10 deadline for the second semester of class, a date many are unlikely to meet, as some 34,000 students in LA remain partially or completely unvaccinated.
However, as of Wednesday, the district said that a large majority of its 600,000 or so students had received their shots as required, or about 85% in total so far.
While noncompliant LA school employees are already getting their pink slips, students who decline vaccination and who receive no official exemption will be required to either enter an "independent study" program, or leave the school district altogether, potentially setting up a massive exodus of students from campus due to the mandate.