Classified employees within the Saugus Unified School District are now showing their COVID-19 vaccination verification or undergo weekly testing to work in the office.
District staff presented an update on labor negotiations between the district and California School Employees Association and its Saugus Unified School District Chapter No. 112 during its bimonthly board meeting on Oct. 12. They’ve agreed upon a stipend for those supervising self-testing at the office as part of their discussions.
“Negotiations were smooth,” said Jennifer Stevenson, the assistant superintendent of human resources for the Saugus district.
Stevenson said there were no difficulties as the district must follow the health mandate set by the California Department of Public Health in August. The school district started verifying the status of its classified workers — such as office assistants, custodians, lunchroom workers — that same month to build up its database.
“Vaccination against COVID-19 is the most effective means of preventing infection with the COVID-19 virus, and subsequent transmission and outbreaks,” Tomás Aragón, director and state public health officer, wrote in the order.
The order required the verification of vaccination status among eligible K-12 school workers. It also established diagnostic screening testing of unvaccinated workers to minimize the risk of transmission among students who are not vaccinated and younger students who are not eligible for vaccines.
Stevenson said approximately 521 staff members across the district are vaccinated, which translates to roughly 95% of the staff. Staff provided their vaccination status no later than Oct. 15, according to Stevenson.
“Classified employees who have a medical restriction or a religious objection can come to me, and we’ll discuss options for them (to continue working and not worry about testing),” Stevenson said.
Liz Hand, president of the Saugus Teachers Association, added that most teachers in the district are vaccinated, but there is a small percentage of teachers who are unvaccinated for a number of reasons.
And although this memorandum of understanding does not apply to teachers, as they have their own agreement, she said that vaccinations are helping them create an environment where they can teach in person — and for teachers, that’s important to them.
Staff members who are partially vaccinated or who have not received their vaccines, for any number of reasons, will undergo a diagnostic screening test, according to the MOU between the district and the CSEA Saugus chapter.
Under the agreement, classified workers will be tested weekly with either a U.S Food and Drug Administration-approved antigen or molecular test for COVID-19.
SUSD will either hire a regular health care or licensed nurse, or utilize classified employees to supervise and possibly administer the test for a monthly stipend of $200. The district will also assign office managers or office assistants to support COVID-19 testing for a monthly stipend of $150.
Vaccination status will remain confidential between the district and its employees, according to the MOU.