LOS ANGELES (CNS) — All eligible students aged 12 and over in the Los Angeles Unified School District would be required to get vaccinated against COVID-19 to attend in-person classes under a proposal going before the district's Board of Education Thursday.
The board has called a special meeting for 2 p.m. Thursday to consider the mandate. According to the agenda, the proposal would require "COVID-19 vaccinations for all students who access in-person instructional programs operated on district facilities, who are 12 years of age and older."
People under age 12 are ineligible for COVID vaccines, since none of the currently available vaccinations have been approved for use in that age group. The Pfizer vaccine is approved on an emergency use basis for people aged 12-15, and it has full authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for people 16 and over.
According to the county Department of Public Health, 60.8% of residents aged 12-15 in Los Angeles County have received at least one dose of vaccine as of Sept. 2.
The proposal going before the board Thursday would exempt students "with qualified and approved exemptions under LAUSD's existing immunization policies."
The proposal would require students aged 12 and older who take part in in-person extracurricular programs to have a first vaccine dose by Oct. 3, and their second no later than Oct. 31.
All other students aged 12 and up would be required to receive their first dose by Nov. 21, and their second by Dec. 19. Other students would have to receive their first dose no later than 30 days after their 12th birthday, and their second dose no later than eight weeks after turning 12.
The mandate would apply to all district students, along with charter school students on "co-located district school facilities."
The resolution cites rising COVID-19 cases during the summer due to the highly contagious delta variant of the virus, along with rising numbers of children hospitalized with the virus. It states that COVID-19 "is a material threat to the health and safety of all students within the LAUSD community, and is a further threat to the successful return to continuous in-person instruction."
United Teachers Los Angeles, the union representing LAUSD teachers, recently announced its support for a vaccine mandate for students. The district already requires weekly COVID testing for students and employees, regardless of their vaccination status.
All district employees must be fully vaccinated by Oct. 15.
The Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday that a majority of LAUSD board members either favor a mandate or are leaning toward favoring such a requirement. School board president Kelly Gonez told the paper a mandate would be a wise step to take "within a reasonable timeline." She said the effective date of such a requirement would depend on factors such as conducting outreach to families.
According to The Times, board member Jackie Goldberg is in full support of a vaccine mandate for students, while members Nick Melvoin, Scott Schmerelson and George McKenna said they are willing to consider a mandate while following the advice of health experts. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer has repeatedly called increased vaccination rates the only way to end the COVID pandemic.
The Culver City Unified School District has approved a vaccine mandate for students, although it will not take effect until November in anticipation of a vaccine receiving full FDA authorization for use in those aged 12-15.