LA to become first major US school district to mandate vaccinations for students

LA to become first major US school district to mandate vaccinations for students
The mask mandate will set a precedent for the rest of the school district amid the sharp rise in cases

The state of Los Angeles is likely to become the first major school district in the United States to mandate vaccination against Covid-19 for students who are 12 and older.

The LA board of education is scheduled to meet on Thursday afternoon to vote on a resolution to require vaccination for eligible students, the LA Times reported. The mandate is poised to get the green light as most of the seven-person board have agreed to approve the measure.

“Science clearly shows that vaccinations are an essential part of protecting our communities. Further details will be forthcoming after the vote,” a statement from the board read. Los Angeles is the second-largest school district in the nation serving over 600,000 students.

Under the mandate, students who are 12-years-old and over would be required to get their first jab by 21 November and their second vaccine dose by 19 December. Students participating in in-person extra-curricular activities, such as sports, will be asked to complete their vaccination process by the end of October.

Children turning 12 after the stipulated time will be given a month to receive their first shot.

Proof of vaccination would have to be uploaded and approved in LAUSD’s Daily Pass program “except for those students with qualified and approved exemptions and conditional admissions” by 10 January 2022 in order to begin the next semester.

“Our goal is to keep kids and teachers as safe as possible and in the classroom. A medical and scientific consensus has emerged that the best way to protect everyone in our schools and communities is for all those who are eligible to get vaccinated. This policy is the best way to make that happen,” board member Nick Melvoin told LA Times.

Despite the surge in Covid-19 cases and deaths, due to the Delta variant, executive orders in a number of states ban school officials from imposing mask mandates. These orders contradict the federal guidance that directs everyone, including vaccinated individuals to wear masks inside schools.

According to the Los Angeles County Department of Health, 60 per cent of the district’s 12-to-15-year-olds have had their first jab. The United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released two studies on Friday which found that minors are more likely to be hospitalised due to the Delta variant. The studies did not provide clear answers as to whether Delta causes more severe disease in children than other variants however, and the hospitalisations could be due to the variant’s higher infectiousness.

The Los Angeles Times tracker based on district data revealed that 1,620 active cases had been identified at schools.