Los Angeles, Chicago Impose Vaccine Mandates for Teachers but Portland Is Mum

COVID is heating up in Oregon ahead of the planned Sept. 1 resumption of in-person school.

Benson return Students return to Benson Polytechnic High School in 2021. (Portland Public Schools) (Carlos Delgado/AP Images for Portland Public Sc)

Although some school districts, including Los Angeles and Chicago, have imposed COVID-19 vaccine mandates on teachers, Portland Public Schools has not yet done so.

“The district has not approached us with a proposal to make vaccines mandatory,” Portland Association of Teachers president Elizabeth Thiel told WW this week in an email, “but it would be a welcome conversation.”

In addition to school districts, large national employers such as Walmart, Google and United Airlines have mandated COVID-19 vaccines for returning workers.

But Portland Public Schools, whose employees will face thousands of unvaccinated children when in-person classes resume Sept. 1, has not broached the subject with its teachers.

Thiel says a March survey found 90% of the union’s 4,500 members had gotten at least one shot and 7% intended to do so. An Education Week survey published this week found that 86% of teachers across the country are fully vaccinated. Thiel adds that district administration has been silent over the summer about teachers’ working conditions although PAT and the district are scheduled to sit down at the bargaining table this coming week.

In a communication it sent to parents Aug. 5, PPS detailed its plans for masks (they will be required), hygiene and distancing when schools reopen Sept 1, but that message was silent on vaccine mandates.

A PPS spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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