by Madison Hirneisen
Los Angeles Unified School District will hold off enforcement until the start of the Fall 2022 semester for a vaccine mandate that would have moved thousands of students out of the classroom and into remote learning.
The LAUSD’s Board of Education voted Tuesday to suspend enforcement of a vaccine mandate for all students 12 and older until the fall. The original mandate, which passed in September, required students to show proof of full vaccination or obtain an exemption by Jan. 10, 2022, to continue attending in-person classes.
Under the initial mandate, those who were not in compliance with the requirement would be required to attend classes remotely at the start of the new semester. But after the council’s Tuesday vote, the district will delay the transfer of non-compliant students to online programs until the fall semester in 2022.
As of Tuesday, about 27,000 students were not in compliance with the mandate, and there is not enough time for students to be fully vaccinated at this point before the initial deadline kicks in, according to ABC News.
The vast majority of students, about 87%, are fully vaccinated at this point – a statistic that board member Jackie Goldberg called an “outstanding vaccination rate.”
In a Tuesday statement, Goldberg said the board made the decision to delay enforcement of the mandate due to high vaccination rates among students and because taking teachers out of classrooms to instruct small groups of students in independent study programs “penalizes all students with fewer instructors and larger class sizes.”
“As we extend the vaccination deadline to next fall, we’ll increase outreach to help families upload vaccination information, stay educated and get access to life-saving vaccines and boosters,” Goldberg said.
“The science is clear: vaccinations protect us. This pandemic is not over, and LAUSD may delay the eligible student vaccination deadline but will uphold the requirement,” she added.
The proposal to suspend enforcement of the vaccination mandate was submitted by Interim Superintendent Megan Reilly, who said last week that delaying enforcement would offer more time for outreach among families and students who are hesitant about the vaccine and improve access to school-based clinics.
“Abundant praise and gratitude to the Los Angeles Unified students and families who have already met the vaccination requirement, staff who have worked under extreme hardship with grace and professionalism and our partners, who have supported our health and safety efforts,” Reilly said in a statement Friday. “Together, we continue to move toward the best and safest possible learning environment for all students and families.”
The vote from the board to delay enforcement came just a few days after Gov. Gavin Newsom appeared on “Good Morning America,” where he discussed the state’s vaccination mandate for schools that was initially announced in October.
Under the state’s mandate, all school children will be required to be vaccinated to attend school after the COVID-19 vaccine is fully approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Newsom, in October, said he expects full FDA approval to first come for kids ages 12-17, who will then be required to be fully vaccinated by the following semester.
During his appearance on GMA last week, Newsom stated that there is a range of exemptions – including personal exemptions – for students who do not comply with the mandate.
“There’s plenty of latitude for family’s to make decisions,” Newsom told GMA. He added that the LAUSD mandate is slightly different from the state’s mandate and that “we’re going to obviously have to work through that with that district.”
With the prospect of thousands of students transferred out of the classroom and into remote learning, Newsom said he hopes schools will work with students and parents to keep kids in the classroom.
“You have to accommodate, and I have all the confidence in the world that the school board will work to accommodate,” Newsom said.
– – –
Madison Hirneisen is a staff reporter covering California for The Center Square. Madison has experience covering both local and national news and is a graduate of Liberty University. She currently resides in Southern California.