First major vaccine mandate is now in store for Los Angeles USD students

Vaccine mandates for eligible students have been extremely rare as U.S. classrooms reopen
By: | September 9, 2021

Students in the nation’s second-largest school district are now covered by the nation’s largest K-12 vaccine mandate.

The Los Angeles USD school board Thursday required eligible students to be vaccinated by this fall if they want to continue attending class in person through 2022. The mandate, proposed by Interim Superintendent Megan K. Reilly, has three major components:

  1. Students 12 and older who are part of in-person extracurricular programs must receive their first vaccine dose by Oct. 3 and the second dose by Oct. 31.
  2. All students 12 and older must get their first dose by Nov. 21 and the second by Dec. 19.
  3. Other students must receive their first dose within 30 days of their 12th birthday and the second within 8 weeks of turning 12.

In her proposal, Reilly notes that vaccines are free and widely available and that the district will work to continue to expand access to inoculations.

Students will need proof of vaccination verified by the district by Jan. 10 to continue attending school in person. The proposal, however, does not detail consequences for eligible students who do not get vaccinated by the district’s deadline.

LAUSD offers Online Independent Study  to “families with medical, social-emotional, or other concerns.” Students in the program spend part of their day receiving live instruction from specially designated teachers.

Vaccine mandates for eligible students have been extremely rare as U.S. classrooms reopen for in-person instruction during the latest COVID surge, which has already closed schools and districts from coast to coast.

The only other U.S. district that has mandate vaccines for students so far is Culver City USD, also in the Los Angeles region. Eligible students there have until Nov. 19 to become fully vaccinated.

A handful of districts have offered students incentives to get vaccinated. Rockford Public Schools near Chicago, for instance, is using federal COVID relief funds to give each eligible student $100 in gift cards if they are or become fully vaccinated.

Next move in Florida mask battle

Gov. Ron DeSantis took swift action Thursday to keep districts in Florida from continuing their mask mandates.

DeSantis appealed a ruling made on Wednesday that allowed the districts to keep their mask mandates in place while the court determines whether his original executive order banning mask mandates violates the state constitution, the Tampa Bay Times reported.

DeSantis and his administration have maintained that parents should decide whether their children wear masks to school.

Within the last week, four Florida districts sued the state over its mask mandate ban. In a joint lawsuit, the Alachua, Broward and Orange county school boards claim the administration’s banning of school mask mandates will increase the risk of COVID transmission in classrooms.

Miami-Dade County Public Schools filed its own lawsuit, saying the DeSantis administration’s actions run “counter to the express legislative intent that schools remain open safely.”