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Health

Maine's teachers union supports vaccine or testing requirements for educators

Carolyn Roy, Loida Vazquez
David J. Phillip
/
AP
Spring Branch Independent School District teacher Loida Vazquez receives a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination shot during a vaccination drive for school education workers Tuesday, March 16, 2021, in Houston.

As the delta variant continues to spread, the state teachers' union says all educators in Maine should be vaccinated or tested regularly in order to protect children's safety.

The Maine Education Association's support follows a directive from President Biden requiring all workers in workplaces with more than 100 employees — including schools — to get vaccinated or regularly tested.

President Grace Leavitt says the steps are needed to keep students, staff and communities safe. More than 2,000 cases have already been reported in Maine schools.

"They're pretty alarming," Leavitt said. "A lot of outbreaks in schools, as well. It's got our educators exhausted already. And our school nurses exhausted, doing all of the things involved with contact tracing."

While many details around the new federal directive have yet to be released, Leavitt says her organization is calling on state agencies to require local districts to set up their own testing sites and follow Maine CDC recommendations, including universal masking.

"A lot of our school board members and superintendents have been in a really tough place, and our educators as well. Where they're not feeling everything has been done to keep them and their students safe," Leavitt said.

In August, the National Education Association came out in support of a similar vaccine or testing requirement for teachers.

For disclosure, the Maine Education Association represents most of Maine Public's news staff.