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Los Angeles school district approves vaccine mandate for students age 12 and older, marking a first among major US school districts

  • Los Angeles is the first major school district to approve a vaccine mandate for students 12 and up.
  • The Los Angeles Unified School District unanimously voted in approval of the proposal.
  • The school board previously mandated vaccines for all teachers and staff prior to the first day of school in August.

The school board of the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) has approved a vaccine mandate for students 12 and over, making it the first major school district in the US to implement such a policy.

The LA school board, which oversees the second-largest school district in the nation, unanimously voted to issue the requirement for students during a meeting on Thursday afternoon.

At the meeting, LAUSD Interim Superintendent Megan Reilly said vaccination could ensure the district’s classrooms will remain open as the Delta variant of the coronavirus continues to prompt surges of infections across the US.

“As the second-largest district in the country, with a richly diverse student population, we know the impact and experiences of COVID-19 are varied amongst our students and our families, and that there are different levels of comfort and discomfort with the vaccine and other Covid-related safety measures,” Reilly said, per CNN.

“Along with these truths, our charge remains clear: to provide students with the best education possible, which includes the many benefits of in-person learning,” Reilly continued.

The proposal will require students ages 12 and up to receive their first COVID-19 vaccine dose by November 21 and second dose by December 19, according to a board of education report. Students participating in in-person extracurriculars will be required to be vaccinated by October 3 and fully vaccinated by October 31, the report shows.

“It is our moral, ethical, political — pick a word — it’s our responsibility to protect the children under 12 that cannot get protected any other way,” school board member Jackie Goldberg said, according to the CNN report.

Reilly estimated that about 225,000 students would be impacted by the new proposal, with about 80,000 students currently unvaccinated, per CNN. The mandate will allow those with “qualified and approved exemptions” to opt out of the requirement.

LAUSD students returned to in-person learning on August 16. On August 13, the LAUSD announced a mandate that requires all district teachers and staff to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by October 15.

Pushback from some parents

Following the vote to approve the student vaccination mandate, school board member Nick Melvoin said the majority of his inbox was filled with opposition from parents, The New York Times reported.

One parent, Angelica Ramos, told The Times she would rather enroll her children in a charter school or home-school them than vaccinate them.

“It shouldn’t be mandatory,” Ramos said. “It should be our decision.”

“We must be the ones who decide for our children, not the district, not anyone else,” LAUSD parent Carla Franca told CNN. “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.”

“When you have your own kids, you can make your own crazy decisions,” Franca said.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki praised the move by LAUSD to implement the vaccine mandate when asked by CNN about it on Thursday.

“Good for them,” Psaki said.

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