Los Angeles Public Schools To Require COVID Vaccine For Students Over 12

by Christina Marfice
Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Students ages 12 and up now have until January to show proof of getting their COVID vaccine in order to attend any school in the Los Angeles Unified School District

Just after President Joe Biden made a speech putting increased pressure on states, school districts, and private businesses to mandate COVID vaccination, the Los Angeles Unified School District announced that all students ages 12 and up will now be required to get the vaccine. LA isn’t the first school district to mandate COVID vaccination for students, but it’s the largest in the nation to do so — the mandate will affect around 600,000 students. Eligible students will now have until Jan. 10, 2022, to show proof that they are fully vaccinated in order to attend any school in the district.

The decision was made on Thursday by Los Angeles County’s Board of Education.

“The science is clear — vaccinations are an essential part of protection against COVID-19,” the district’s interim superintendent, Megan K. Reilly, said in a statement. “The COVID-19 vaccines are safe, effective and requiring eligible students to be vaccinated is the strongest way to protect our school community.”

Currently, the LA district has a number of safety measures in place, including regular health checks for students, mandatory masking inside school buildings, contact tracing, and upgraded ventilation in classrooms. But California is still seeing a spike in pediatric COVID cases, a major justification for the new vaccine requirement.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, more than 5 million children have tested positive for COVID-19 to date. The delta variant, which is driving the current surge of cases across the country, seems to be more contagious among children than previous versions of the virus — during the week of Aug. 26 to Sept. 2, children accounted for more than 26 percent of all COVID cases in the U.S.

While children are still very unlikely to be made severely ill by the virus, it’s disrupted schools and learning since the start of the pandemic. Not only do the children who get sick have to miss class, but so do their teachers and other students who are forced to quarantine after being exposed to COVID-19 at school.

“Our goal is to keep kids and teachers safe as possible, and in the classroom,” LA County Board of Education Vice President Nick Melvoin said in a statement about the new vaccine mandate. “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.”