Los Angeles Unified School District Mandates COVID-19 Vaccines for All Students 12 and Older

As President Joe Biden announced a sweeping vaccination mandate on Thursday, Los Angeles Unified became the largest school district to require students to get inoculated against COVID-19

Photo: getty

As President Joe Biden announced a sweeping COVID-19 executive order on Thursday, the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) passed a mandate of their own.

Board members of the country's second-largest school district (600,000 students in 1,200 schools) voted 6-0 to require all students aged 12 and older to be fully vaccinated in order to attend in-person classes, with the exception of students with "qualified and approved exemptions and conditional admissions."

"We want to do everything possible to make sure that L.A. Unified doesn't end up on the long list of school districts that have had to re-close and go back to distance learning after welcoming students back this fall," said board member Nick Melvoin, according to KTLA 5.

The resolution requires eligible students to have their first vaccination dose by November 21 and their second dose by December 19. For students in sports and other in-person extracurricular activities, they will be required to have their first and second doses by October 3 and 31. All other students are required to get their first dose within 30 days after their 12th birthday.

"Although LAUSD has returned to in-person instruction for students who choose to return and has implemented high standard of multi-layered safety measures which are effective at mitigating the spread of COVID-19, including COVID-19 testing, masking, ventilation, screening, high quality sanitation measures, and requirement for all employees to be vaccinated, COVID-19 remains a material threat to the health and safety of all students within the LAUSD community, and is a further threat to continuous in-person instruction," the resolution reads.

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A person getting vaccinated. Getty

Vaccines are available for free at mobile clinics set up at every LAUSD middle school and high school campus, and the proposal requires eligible students to upload proof of vaccination to LAUSD's Daily Pass by January 10, 2022.

The board cited a growing number of hospitalizations and deaths among adolescents, as the Delta variant continues to spread. They also noted the availability of vaccines for children 12 and older, while recommitting to their efforts to provide equitable access to vaccines.

As of August 29, 57.8 percent (239,515) of students 12 and older in the LAUSD have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to the Los Angeles County Office of Public Health.

"At this time in history, we are being called to move away from our individualism and make decisions for the greater sake of humanity are specifically for the sake of our children," said Dr. Smita Malhotra, L.A. Unified's medical director, according to KTLA 5. "Schools are known to be foundations and pillars of our society. And so it makes sense that we play a part in mitigating the public health crisis we are faced with today."

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The resolution still received pushback, including from Angelica Ramos, who said she would enroll her three children in a charter school or homeschool before vaccinating them. "It shouldn't be mandatory. It should be our decision," she said, according to The New York Times, clarifying that she takes the pandemic seriously and supports masking, but is concerned about the vaccine's side effects.

The first major school district to implement such a mandate, the LAUSD already required all teachers and staff to be fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, while requiring all students to undergo weekly testing, regardless of their vaccination status. The district is also offering online independent study in lieu of in-person learning.

The LAUSD's vote on Thursday came as President Joe Biden imposed a sweeping new vaccine mandate in response to the latest COVID-19 surge. "We've been patient, but our patience is wearing thin," he said.

joe biden
Joe Biden. Samuel Corum/getty

As part of the executive order that could impact up to 100 million Americans, the Labor Department will require businesses that employ 100 or more people to ensure that all employees are vaccinated or are tested once a week.

The order also extends to all federal employees and contractors, without the option of weekly tests. Additionally, educators in Federal Head Start programs, as well as healthcare workers at facilities that receive funds from Medicare and Medicaid, will be required to get vaccinated against coronavirus.

"While America is in much better shape than it was seven months ago when I took office, I need to tell you a second fact: We're in a tough stretch and it could last for a while," Biden added.

Biden's latest executive order on the COVID-19 pandemic is his most dramatic yet, after first laying out his plan to get Americans vaccinated in January. With the Delta variant continuing to spread, there are still an estimated 80 million eligible Americans that have yet to be inoculated, according to the White House.

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