NEW ORLEANS — New Orleans public school students returned to the classroom about two weeks ago, amid record numbers of new COVID cases and hospitalizations in Louisiana.
About half of the city’s charter schools are now banding together to require teachers and staff to be vaccinated.
L.B. Landry High School, managed by Algiers Charter, is one of them.
Chantyle Jones is a school counselor at Landry.
“In order for us to maintain and to be in this space consistently, then we must remain safe and one of the ways for us to remain safe, is you receive the vaccination,” Jones said. “Without the vaccinations, we’re not in schools.”
Algiers Charter CEO Talé Lockett says about 75% of employees at Landry and its sister school Martin Behrman are already vaccinated.
“That’s what made us push to get that last 25% to get that 100% of what we’re looking for to keep our staff, to keep our students and our families and community safe,” Lockett said.
The New Orleans teachers’ union is not opposed to a vaccine mandate.
In a statement, UTNO President Wanda Richard said, “Schools have always required vaccinations in order to keep each other safe and we encourage any efforts that will help protect Louisiana’s children from this deadly disease and get our schools back to normal."
NOLA Public Schools plans to mandate COVID vaccines for its central office and administrative staff.
"NOLA Public Schools supports its community of schools in requiring vaccinations for its staff. NOLA-PS, pending board approval, is looking to lead by example and mandate vaccines for its central office administration staff, which encompasses approximately 250 employees. Per health experts, vaccinations are the best way to combat the COVID-19 pandemic," a statement from NOLA-PS said.
Algiers Charter will be rewarding employees who are fully vaccinated by Sept. 1, with extra days off.
“These are steps to help us move forward, so we can put a stop to this Covid-19 pandemic that we’re in,” Lockett said.
By law, employees with religious or medical concerns may be exempt from the vaccine mandate.
Schools will require exempt staff to test weekly for COVID.
The schools requiring teachers to vaccinate represent about 50% of public school students in New Orleans.
Schools requiring staff vaccinations include:
- Algiers Charter Association
- Audubon Charter School
- Bricolage Academy
- Crescent City Schools
- Collegiate Academies
- Dolores Arthur Taylor School for Young Men
- Einstein Schools
- InspireNOLA Charter Schools
- James M Singleton Charter School
- KIPP New Orleans Schools
- Lusher Charter School
- New Orleans Charter Science and Mathematics High School (Sci High)
- Noble Minds Institute for Whole Child Learning
- Robert Russa Moton Charter School
- Sophie B. Wright High
Here is UTNO’s full statement from President Wanda Richard:
"We know that vaccinations reduce the likelihood that someone will end up in the hospital or dead as a result of COVID-19, and we encourage families, school staff and eligible students to take advantage of this free and safe vaccine. As we are faced with the Delta Variant and the worst surge we have seen in Louisiana yet, this vaccine is one of the best tools we have to protect ourselves and each other. Schools have always required vaccinations in order to keep each other safe and we encourage any efforts that will help protect Louisiana’s children from this deadly disease and get our schools back to normal."