Members of the Los Angeles Teachers Association have ratified an agreement to make masking optional in the nation’s second-largest school system, the union announced Monday night.
Under the agreement, the requirement for indoor masking for students and staff on Wednesday for staff and students ranging from the early transition kindergarten to 12th grade and also including adult school and workplaces without students will be lifted.
Among those who voted, 84% voted yes and 16% no.
Under the agreement, a small segment of student enrollment would continue to have a masking requirement. All children in district programs who are younger than four, as well as four-year-olds who are not yet in early transition kindergarten or transition kindergarten, must continue to wear masks, as well as the staff who work with them.
In a statement Monday, LA Unified said it wanted to avoid “confusion in communities” because federal early education programs that are not run by the district still required masks for that age group. For that reason, “we continue to demand masking in our early education programs,” the statement said. “We will continue to engage and revise policies as new guidance and our science-based approach allow.”
The district declined to say how many students would be affected.
President Cecily Myart-Cruz said in a statement that this disguise was an important part of the agreement.
The agreement also includes a commitment to maintain the required weekly coronavirus testing for all staff and students, which will cost about $ 5 million a week until the end of the school year.
Myart-Cruz said this was also a crucial provision: “Our health and safety priorities in the negotiations with the district were twofold: to maintain the regular COVID testing program that has been shown to keep our community safe and protect our youngest students in early education programs that are incapable of being vaccinated. “
Children under the age of five are not yet eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
The union and the district agreed to re-evaluate the test plan in mid-April and mid-May.
There will also be a new round of baseline testing for all students and staff before returning from the spring break, which runs from April 11 to April 15.
While allowing optional masking, “county health officials” continue to recommend the use of masks in schools
According to the latest figures, the union has more than 30,000 members and represents nurses, counselors and librarians as well as teachers. More than 18,000 ballot papers cast.
The Education Council is expected to approve the agreement.