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coronavirus

NEA says it supports policies that mandate Covid vaccinations for all teachers

Aug. 12, 2021
The teachers union's position could make widespread vaccine requirements for teachers more likely.

The nation’s largest teachers’ union says it will support policies that would require all teachers to get vaccinated against Covid-19 or submit to regular testing.

The New York Times reports that the National Education Association's change in position is the latest in a rapid series of shifts that could make widespread vaccine requirements for teachers more likely as the Delta variant spreads in the United States.

“It is clear that the vaccination of those eligible is one of the most effective ways to keep schools safe,” says Becky Pringle, president of the National Education Association.

"NEA has said from the beginning that we need to follow the science, and evidence shows that Covid-19 vaccines, combined with other safety measures, are the most powerful weapon we have against the pandemic," Pringle says.

The announcement comes after Randi Weingarten, leader of the American Federation of Teachers, another major education union, signaled her strongest support yet for vaccine mandates on Sunday.

Pringle left open the possibility that teachers who are not vaccinated could receive regular testing instead, and added that local “employee input, including collective bargaining where applicable, is critical.”

Her union’s support for certain requirements is notable because it represents about 3 million members, including in many rural and suburban districts where adults are less likely to be vaccinated. The union says nearly 90% of its members report being fully vaccinated.

California has ordered all teachers and staff members to provide proof of vaccination or face weekly testing, an order that applies to both public and private schools. Hawaii is requiring all state and county employees to be vaccinated or be tested, including public-school teachers.

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