Los Angeles school board votes to mandate Covid-19 vaccine for eligible students age 12 and over

Los Angeles school board votes to mandate Covid-19 vaccine for eligible students age 12 and over
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All eligible children attending Los Angeles Unified public schools — the nation’s second largest school district — will be required to be vaccinated against Covid-19 by the end of the calendar year, the school board of education has voted.

In a special meeting held Thursday, the Los Angeles Unified School Board decided a mandate was appropriate based on the sudden surge of the virus brought about by the Delta variant and data showing lower rates of infection and hospitalization among those who are vaccinated.

The proposal approved Thursday requires all eligible students 12 years of age and older to receive their first Covid-19 vaccine doses by no later than November 21, and their second doses by no later than December 19. Students who participate in in-person extracurricular activities, including sports, face an earlier deadline of October 3 for a first dose of the vaccine and a second dose no later than October 31.

The district, which includes more than 600,000 students, already mandates the vaccine for teachers and staff, requires face coverings be worn by all, and tests all students and staff for infections weekly. Classrooms have also been outfitted with enhanced ventilation systems in an effort to decrease the spread of the virus.

District spokesperson Shannon Haber was not able to provide the number of students affected by Thursday’s decision, but noted that many students have already been inoculated.

The mandate will apply to all vaccine eligible students who are attending school in-person and would exclude those with”qualified and approved exemptions.” Students who decline the vaccine and have no exemptions can participate in the online Independent Study Program. About 15,000 students are currently enrolled in the remote learning program, according to boardmember Tanya Ortiz Franklin.

During the hearing Thursday, Dr. Richard Pan, a state senator, pediatrician, and district parent advocated for the measure, pushing for “community immunity” to protect the kids that are too young to be eligible for the vaccine. He praised LAUSD for “leading the way” and “following the science to ensure schools are safe.”

While some parents spoke in favor of the mandate, others angrily denounced the proposal.

“We must be the ones who decide for our children, not the district, not anyone else,” admonished parent Carla Franca.”If you want to take your own children to the killing fields, you do it, but you are not the one who should be deciding,” she said. “When you have your own kids, you can make your own crazy decisions.”

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