All employees in the Los Angeles Unified School District must be vaccinated against COVID-19 by Oct. 15, interim Supt. Megan Reilly announced Friday — an order intended to reassure parents and employees and provide more defense against the surging Delta variant of the coronavirus.

“As part of the Los Angeles Unified School District’s efforts to provide the safest possible environment in which to learn and work, all District employees will be required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by October 15,” Reilly said in a statement.

The Oct. 15 date was set, presumably, to give unvaccinated employees enough time to comply. It’s also the date, under a separate state order, by which all school districts must have a system in place to test unvaccinated workers every week for a coronavirus infection.

L.A. Unified’s testing program already is in place. Under that effort, all employees and students must test for a coronavirus infection each week, whether or not they are vaccinated. That requirement will continue even with the vaccine mandate.

Shortly after the district’s announcement, a separate announcement endorsing the mandate was released by United Teachers Los Angeles, which represents more than 30,000 teachers, nurses, counselors and librarians.

The union decision was based on what was described as an “overwhelming” vote by the union’s board of directors. The UTLA board had previously voted to “not oppose” a vaccine mandate.

“This stronger position comes as the Delta variant continues to surge in our communities and as students and staff prepare for a return to full-time, in-person learning next week,” the union release stated.

UTLA President Cecily Myart-Cruz said she strongly backed the move.

“I am the parent of an LAUSD fifth-grader, and my family has been going through the same uncertainty and anguish as so many other families as we approach the return to school,” Myart-Cruz said in a statement. “This Delta variant is unlike anything we have seen so far in this crisis — especially its impact on children — and we all need to step up to do our part to protect the most vulnerable among us.”

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