LOS ANGELES (CNS) — The Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education agreed Tuesday to delay implementation of the district’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for eligible students until at least July 1, 2023.
Superintendent Alberto Carvalho announced in late April that he was recommending the delay, which aligns the district with the state’s timeline for imposing the student mandate.
The mandate for district employees remains in place.
“The ability of our system to pivot shows that we are a science-based school district and the health and safety protocols we adopt are influenced by the expert advice of our medical partners and public health officials,” Carvalho said in a statement. “We know that students do best when learning in the classroom with their peers. Due to the high vaccination rates among students 12 and older, low transmission rates in our schools and our nation-leading safety measures, we have preserved in-person learning in the safest possible environment.”
The district reported in December, when implementation of the vaccine mandate for students was delayed until at least fall, that the vaccination rate among eligible students aged 12 and over was nearly 90%. The rate among employees is even higher.
“We have high vaccination rates amongst our students 12 years and older and with our employees,” LAUSD Medical Director Dr. Smita Malhotra said in a statement. “We have demonstrated low transmission rates in our schools with few outbreaks. And now, since the beginning of the pandemic, not only do we have the existence of therapeutics to deal with COVID-19, but scientists also have a greater understanding of this virus.”
The board approved the delay in the mandate without discussion, but a handful of parents spoke to the board in favor of the move, with some calling for the requirement to be dropped altogether.
“We do not want to see our children segregated or discriminated against,” one parent told the board.
Another said parents “will not co-parent with LAUSD,” saying she plans to pull her children out of the district in the next school year. She said unvaccinated students are being treated like “second-class citizens.”
District officials said they plan to continue providing information about vaccinations and making the shots available to students.
When Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a statewide vaccination mandate for students, he said it would not take effect until federal regulators gave full approval of the shots. Thus far, however, the vaccines for younger children remain in circulation solely on an “emergency use” basis.
The LAUSD was planning to move ahead with its requirement regardless of the state, initially planning to impose it in December. But even with relatively high rates of vaccination among students, there were still roughly 30,000 who hadn’t received the shots, meaning they would have been forced into online, independent study. The district announced in December it was pushing back the vaccine mandate until fall 2022.
But the superintendent’s recommendation going to the Board of Education Tuesday would push it back until July 2023.