Santa Monica-Malibu School District to Require Vaccinations for Teachers, Universal Masking for All

SMMUSD school board takes action in response to spread of Delta variant

By Sam Catanzaro

The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District (SMMUSD) will require faculty and staff to be vaccinated while mandating students and staff to wear masks both indoors and outdoors. 

During an August 10 special meeting, the SMMUSD school board passed two resolutions in response to the COVID-19 delta variant, requiring vaccinations for all employees and universal indoor and outdoor masking. 

“As superintendent, If I err, I must err on the side of ensuring that we have been overly cautious and health-protective, not that we have fallen short and taken unnecessary risks in the face of this new delta variant,” said Dr. Ben Drati, Superintendent in a statement. “Like many parents, I feel sad that we must implement these measures in order to best ensure the continuation of in-person instruction for this school year. We are making the best of an unfortunate scenario.” 

According to the resolution dealing with vaccinations, all SMMUSD employees must report their COVID-19 vaccination status to the District by August 19, 2021. Then by October 1, 2021, employees will be allowed on District campuses or facilities only if they are fully vaccinated and have submitted documentation, or have obtained an exemption. 

“Unvaccinated employees assigned to work on campus will be excluded from campus and deemed absent without leave, unless a District-authorized exemption or other accommodation has been obtained by an employee,” reads the resolution. “Employees may request an exemption or accommodation based on religious grounds, or on the basis that a disability, medical condition, or mental health condition prevents vaccination, testing, and/or the wearing of the mask. The Superintendent, or designee, shall establish a process for consideration of such requests on an individualized basis.” 

Any employee receiving an exemption or accommodation shall be required to undergo COVID-19 testing twice a week. 

In addition, the resolution states that all District employees, regardless of vaccination status, will be required to wear a mask covering indoors and outdoors, at all times while on school grounds, subject to exemptions. 

In a separate resolution, the SMMUSD school board passed rules mandating wearing masks both indoors and outdoors while also bringing weekly COVID-19 testing to campuses. 

“In order to access District campuses and facilities, all students are required to wear a face mask, indoors and outdoors, regardless of vaccination status and test results, subject to exemptions or accommodations,” reads the resolution. “students may request an exemption or accommodation on religious grounds, or on the basis that a disability, medical condition, mental health condition, or hearing condition that is documented by a medical practitioner prevents the student from wearing the mask or from undergoing the testing.” 

In addition, under the resolution, upon the start of the school year, all students and staff, regardless of vaccination status, will be required to undergo regular PCR testing. Evidence of negative COVID-19 test result will be required in order to have access to District campuses and facilities. According to the District, the testing will take place at school, during the school day, at no cost to students and families. 

“If a student refuses testing, but District or school personnel have good reason to believe the student is suffering from an infectious disease, the student shall be sent home and shall not be permitted to return until the school authorities are satisfied that any contagious or infectious disease does not exist,” reads the resolution. 

Students can also request an exemption for the testing requirement. 

In addition to the rules relating to students, faculty and staff, the SMMUSD board took action to mandate all visitors coming onto District campuses and facilities, to wear a face mask at all times, subject to exemptions or accommodations. 

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