Hundreds are fired, online learning set to return amid vaccine resistance at nation’s second-largest school district

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imageThe second-largest school district in the United States is facing mounting woes over its coronavirus vaccine mandate, recently terminating hundreds of employees who refused to comply and vowing to put thousands of unvaccinated students into online classes.Board members of Los Angeles Unified School District — which has one of the strictest vaccine mandates in the nation — voted Tuesday to terminate 496 employees who failed to get vaccinated ahead of the deadline.“We care deeply about all of our employees,” interim superintendent Megan K.Reilly said in a statement following the board’s decision.“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.”In addition, some 34,000 students are also in violation of the requirements, according to the Los Angeles Times .Per the district’s vaccination policy , students 12 and older must be fully vaccinated — or receive an exemption — by the start of the second semester in January.Those who fail to do so will not be allowed on school campuses and will be referred to an online independent study program .

Should my child get a coronavirus vaccine? Is it safe? Here’s what you should know.President Biden has called on state governors to impose coronavirus vaccine mandates for all teachers and staffers, as school districts across the country — as well as many colleges and universities — have been requiring the shots in an effort to slow the virus spread.Such requirements are established at the state level.Oregon, Puerto Rico, Washington state and D.C.are requiring teachers to get vaccinated , and several other states are requiring teachers to get the shots or undergo routine testing.However, in most states, these requirements are being decided at the local level.In early September, Los Angeles became the largest school district to take things a step further, requiring the vaccine for eligible students .Many are looking to what happens in Los Angeles as a potential indicator of what is to come in other districts across the United States as the nation continues to try to dig out of the pandemic.Michael Petrilli, president of the Thomas B.

Fordham Institute, a conservative education think tank, said if there is significant pushback from employees or students, other districts may pump the brakes on their own vaccine mandates.At a school board meeting on Tuesday, parents and students spoke against the vaccine mandate and the alternative for those who are unvaccinated — remote learning.“Students have the choice of vaccinating or being removed from their friends, robotics classes, sports teams, clubs, plays, other extracurriculars and their magnet programs,” one parent told board members.“This is coercion.”One student said she works hard in school but does not like learning online “and it hurts to hear that I won’t be here to finish my next three years in high school like regular students.”School board members could not immediately be reached for comment on the mandate.What you need to know about the coronavirus vaccine for kids ages 5 to 11 Experts say, as an incentive, the school district’s vaccine program appears to be working.

Nearly 99 percent of employees and 85 percent of students 12 and older have been vaccinated, the district said.

But, education observers note, it’s complicated balancing the need to protect the health of students while protecting their education.If Los Angeles follows through with forcing unvaccinated students into online learning, they may suffer, Petrilli said.“There’s too much focus on covid and not as much on academic achievement,” he said.Emerging research has shown that throughout the pandemic, the less in-person instruction students had, the worse the students performed academically, said Robin Lake, director of the Center on Reinventing Public Education, a nonpartisan research and policy group.She said this was particularly true of lower-income students and students of color, who tended to remain in virtual classes longer than their peers because schools in urban areas often stayed closed longer.“The bottom line is that the kids who are already more likely to be behind academically fell further behind during the pandemic, in part because they were in virtual learning longer than other kids,” Lake said.However, Lake said, that was not always the case.She said there are some examples of school districts that offered high-quality virtual instruction early in the pandemic and some students thrived in that environment.In addition, she said, some school districts offered in-person instruction in small groups with tutors or aides to ensure that the students were learning the material while the districts continued to try to contain potential outbreaks of the coronavirus.In situations in which students are learning online, Lake said, “we owe them really, really high-quality virtual instruction.”But Petrilli said that might be “wishful thinking,” arguing that while online learning technology shows promise for the future, it may never be sufficient for the typical student, much less a lower-performing one who needs special attention.“I think we have to be worried that kids who are told they can’t come to school will get the education they need to succeed,” Petrilli added.The Los Angeles Board of Education on Thursday named Alberto Carvalho as the new superintendent in Los Angeles.

Carvalho was the former superintendent in Miami-Dade, where he has sparred with Florida Gov.Ron DeSantis (R) over mask mandates in schools — with DeSantis banning such requirements and Carvalho standing firm that masks protect students and teachers.After Thursday’s announcement, LAUSD board President Kelly Gonez said in a statement that he “brings the deep experience we need as an educator and leader of a large urban district to manage L.A.Unified’s ongoing response to and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.” Read more: A child with the virus was sent to school.Then 75 classmates had to quarantine.

The principal is cleaning the bathroom: Schools reel with staff shortages In a San Francisco high school, the scars of remote schooling linger.

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