Los Angeles School District Mandates Vaccines for Students 12 and Older

In Summary

The nation's second-largest school district has imposed a vaccine mandate for all students 12 and over.

Students attending the Los Angeles Unified public school system will be required to take a COVID-19 vaccine before the end of the year.   

The school board of the second-largest school district unanimously voted on Thursday to mandate the vaccine for kids 12 and older. Kids must get their first shot of the vaccine by November 21 and be fully vaccinated by December 19, according to CNN.   

The decision comes when COVID cases are ticking up due to the highly contagious Delta variant.   

“We’ve always approached safety with a multilayered approach: masks, air filtration and coronavirus screening,” Interim Super Intendent Megan K. Reilly told the Los Angeles Times. “But we are seeing without a doubt that the vaccines are one of the clearest pathways to protecting individuals from getting severe sickness as well as for mitigating transmission of the COVID virus. It is one of the best preventive measures that we have at our disposal to create a safe environment at schools.”  

Out of 600,000 students in Los Angeles’ public school system, about 225,000 of them are 12 years and older. Around 80,000 of the eligible students are unvaccinated, Reilly said.   

The mandate applies to students who are attending in-person school. Kids with “qualified and approved exemptions” can opt-out, as reported by CNN.   

Students with no exemption who turn down the COVID-19 vaccine can take part in online learning through the system’s Independent Study Program.   

“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.   

According to CNN, not everyone is on board with the vaccine mandate. Carla Franca, a parent of one of the school system’s students, criticized the board’s decision.   

“We must be the ones who decide for our children, not the district, not anyone else,” Franca said. “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.” 

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