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California Federation of Teachers president shows strong support for vaccine mandate

Union represents 120,000 teachers, school staff
COVID-19 vaccination card
Posted at 4:22 PM, Aug 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-12 19:22:04-04

SAN DIEGO, CA (KGTV)-- A tour of California schools brought the California Federation of Teachers (CFT) president to Poway Unified's Design39Campus in Rancho Bernardo Thursday to meet with the district's new teachers, explain safety procedures for the return to school, and answer questions about the union.

"These are all brand new teachers; they get two days before all the other teachers, talking about the opening of school and becoming a union member," said Jeff Freitas, president of CFT. "This is the fourth day of our tour. We're doing a two and a half week tour across the state, trying to hit as many of our locals and our school districts that we represent across the state."

The union represents more than 120,000 public and private educational employees, from Head Start to the University of California, according to the CFT website. With teachers finally returning to their classrooms in-person, full-time, Freitas said school safety is a top priority.

"We're cautiously optimistic, we're very much aware of the delta variant, but many of us are vaccinated," he said.

"The vaccination we know prevents people from serious illness, so by getting everybody vaccinated actually keeps our school open," Freitas said, adding that about 90 percent of educators are vaccinated.

Wednesday, CA Gov. Gavin Newsom announced educators and school staff must provide proof of a COVID-19 vaccination or undergo weekly testing. Although there has been some pushback, Freitas told ABC 10News that most CFT members are already vaccinated and support the governor's policy.

"We have heard from a few union members who have disagreed with not only our position on the governor but also the governor's policy in general, but we'll work through that. We'll have communication," he said.

"There are some details we'll have to work out, where's the testing going to occur, how do we report the vaccination, what type of documentation is needed," he explained.

Students in the Poway Unified School District return to school on Aug. 18. Schools are required to comply with Newsom's mandate by Oct. 15.