During a special meeting on Thursday that was called with just one-day notice, the Los Angeles Board of Education voted 6-0 to require mandatory vaccinations for hundreds of thousands of eligible students enrolled in America’s second-largest public school district.
The Los Angeles Times reported, “All children 12 and older in Los Angeles public schools must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by January to enter campus,” adding that the new policy is “the first such mandate among the nation’s largest school systems and a decision that triggered immediate pushback.”
The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) serves more than 600,000 K-12 students at over 1,000 schools. Interim Superintendent Megan K. Reilly told The Times the order is part of a “multilayered” strategy to reduce coronavirus transmission, combined with other mitigation efforts like air filtration, testing, and requiring face coverings. She reportedly estimated approximately 225,000 students in grades 6-12 would fall under the mandate and said those not vaccinated by the deadline would not be permitted back on campus for in-person instruction. Remote learning will be available for eligible students who do not get immunized.
Exemptions may be granted for documented medical reasons but not religious beliefs, officials told The Times.
“We know the impact and experiences with COVID-19 are varied, and that there are different levels of comfort and discomfort with the vaccine and other COVID-related safety measures,” Reilly said during a news conference. “But along with these truths, our charge remains clear: to provide students with the best education possible, which includes the many benefits of in-person education.”
Many education officials consider LAUSD a model for COVID-19 protocols and expect other districts to follow suit.
The Times provides more details:
Under the district’s mandate, the first students affected would be those involved in any school-sponsored extracurricular activity, including sports, drama, chorus and band. Those students who are 12 or older must receive a first vaccine dose no later than Oct. 3 and a second dose no later than Oct. 31.
All students 12 and older would have to receive a first dose no later than Nov. 21 and a second dose no later than Dec. 19. The final day of classes before winter break is Dec. 17.
Students return to class on Jan. 11. By Jan. 10, proof of vaccination would have to be “uploaded and approved in LAUSD’s Daily Pass program” except for those students with approved exemptions, the proposal says. The Daily Pass allows a student onto campus and tracks weekly coronavirus test results. Parents and students also use the pass to self-report whether a student has symptoms.
According to the L.A. Daily News, “Board member Scott Schmerelson recused himself from the vote because he owns stock with Pfizer, one of the COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers.”
The move comes after the teachers union recently dropped its demand that all schoolkids “achieve full vaccination no later than 12 weeks following the birthday in which they become eligible” to get the shots. Union leadership, however, made clear that they “continue to support a vaccine requirement for all eligible students” who have not been granted religious or medical exemptions. District officials told The Times last week that the union’s demand was inappropriate for the bargaining table, but the board would still consider such a mandate.
LAUSD implemented strict coronavirus protocols in preparation for returning to in-person instruction on August 16. As The Daily Wire previously reported, Interim Superintendent Reilly informed parents of a new policy in July requiring every student, teacher, and staff member returning to campus take part in weekly COVID-19 testing, regardless of vaccination status. The district has also ordered all employees to be fully vaccinated by October 15. In addition, indoor and outdoor mask mandates are in place on campuses. Last week, LAUSD launched mobile vaccination clinics with plans to send teams to every middle and high school campus to offer first and second Pfizer doses to eligible students and employees.
L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said LAUSD’s newest policy would “add another layer of protection” for children and staffers on campuses.
School Board President Kelly Gonez acknowledged earlier in the week that a vaccine requirement would likely face legal challenges and resistance from some parents. But, before Thursday’s vote, she said, “it’s about the collective good. It’s about what’s best for the community as a whole.”
About 100 demonstrators protesting against the student vaccine requirement reportedly showed up outside district headquarters before the vote took place.
The Daily Wire is one of America’s fastest-growing conservative media companies and counter-cultural outlets for news, opinion, and entertainment. Get inside access to The Daily Wire by becoming a member.