Sacramento teachers push for mandatory vaccinations, testing for students and staff

Local News

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — The teachers union sent a proposal to the Sacramento City Unified School District Wednesday asking for mandatory vaccinations for all eligible district students and staff, as well as mandatory weekly COVID-19 testing.

In a release sent Thursday, the Sacramento City Teachers Association claims that an average of 19 new COVID-19 cases have been reported per day since the school year began Sept. 2. That includes an outbreak at New Joseph Bonnheim Charter School that saw 23 positive cases. The Sacramento County Department of Health recommended the school close, but Superintendent Jorge Aguilar said he “would only honor an order to close the school and not a recommendation.”

Along with vaccination and testing requirements, SCTA demands the district be more transparent about the recommendations it receives from local and state public health officials.

The proposal goes on to address the district’s staff shortage, with 200 vacancies among teachers and 39 classrooms on average — roughly 1,170 students — without a regular or substitute teacher each day. The proposal would require the district to notify parents when their students’ class is without a teacher, something that is not currently disclosed.

SCUSD has also not been able to provide independent study courses due to the lack of teachers, with Thursday’s release saying that more than 600 students are still unable to enroll in independent study.

“The health and safety of students and staff and ensuring that our students have teachers in the classroom should be our top priorities,” said second grade teacher and SCTA President David Fisher. “SCTA’s comprehensive proposals would help the district achieve these goals.”

Contrary to other districts that have proposed increasing salaries during the shortage, SCUSD has included cuts that would reduce take-home pay for teachers by an average of $750 per month. The union proposed extending the current collective bargaining agreement with a 3.5% increase for recruiting and retaining current staff, as well as delaying negotiations on a new contract until the spring.

It also wants to see an increase in the salaries of substitute teachers and provide sick leave for those who fall ill with COVID-19.

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