School & District Management

L.A.'s Ambitious Student Vaccine Mandate Poised to Be Pushed Back

By Howard Blume, Los Angeles Times — December 10, 2021 3 min read
The Los Angeles Unified School District Interim Superintendent of Schools Megan Reilly is seen in a video feed for the media at LAUSD headquarters in Los Angeles Thursday Sept. 9, 2021. The Los Angeles board of education voted Thursday to require students 12 and older to be vaccinated against the coronavirus to attend in-person classes in the nation's second-largest school district.
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

The Los Angeles school district is poised to push back enforcement of its Jan. 10 student COVID-19 vaccine mandate, confronted with more than 30,000 students 12 and older who are not fully vaccinated and would otherwise be barred from campus.

Under a proposal from interim Supt. Megan Reilly, enforcement of the January deadline would be suspended until fall of 2022, the start of the next school year.

While the mandate has probably resulted in thousands of students being inoculated — making campuses more protected from outbreaks — the district also was faced with the reality of tens of thousands student being unable to attend class in person under the rules of what may be the strictest student vaccine mandate in the nation. Unvaccinated students would have been placed in an existing independent study program, called City of Angels, that has struggled since the start of the year and would be hard-pressed to manage the sudden and potentially overwhelming influx.

By early this week, it already was too late for students to complete the five-week vaccination cycle. Students 18 and older have the option of completing a two-week vaccination cycle.

The Board of Education will make a final decision on delayed enforcement of the deadline at its Tuesday board meeting. But a Friday morning alert from Reilly suggested that the change of plans is all but official.

In a statement, Reilly chose to focus on the positive — about 86.5 percent of students are in compliance. These students have received at least one shot, obtained a medical exemption or qualified for a deadline extension because of extenuating circumstances.

“Los Angeles Unified applauds the 86.52 percent of students aged 12 and older and their families who are in compliance with the vaccine mandate, and the many other families who are still in the process of adding their vaccine records to the system,” Reilly said. “This is a major milestone, and there’s still more time to get vaccinated!”

The nation’s second-largest school system remains committed to its student vaccine initiative, she said: “The science is clear — vaccinations are an essential part of protection against COVID-19.”

The success of the inoculation effort to date makes it possible to delay enforcement of the vaccination deadline and still maintain safe campuses, officials said.

See Also

Illustration of broken umbrella only stopping some of the rain
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
Equity & Diversity Opinion The Hidden Toll of Vaccine Mandates on Students of Color: What to Know
Tyrone C. Howard, December 9, 2021
4 min read

The change of direction also is expected to affect the district’s coronavirus testing program, which was about to be scaled back for the spring semester.

Under Reilly’s modified plan, L.A. Unified would require baseline testing for all at the start of the spring semester and continue with weekly testing of all students and staff, regardless of vaccination status, through January. Starting in February, only students without proof of vaccination would be required to test regularly.

In continuing the testing, the district is adopting a request of the teachers union, United Teachers Los Angeles. The union has supported the vaccine mandate both for students and employees.

Nearly 500 school district employees — out of 73,000 — lost their jobs this week as a result of the employee mandate, including seven holding a teaching credential. The district has not yet clarified whether these were classroom teachers, but most unvaccinated classroom teachers have been able to transfer to the independent study program, where those who are unvaccinated — teachers or students — have no in-person contact with others involved in the program.

On behalf of the Board of Education, Reilly has spearheaded the vaccine push and also is managing the current triage. She is soon expected to step back from the top leadership role to make way for Alberto M. Carvalho, who is the school board’s pick as permanent superintendent.

The board voted unanimously on Thursday to begin contract negotiations with Carvalho and hopes he can arrive in Los Angeles in the coming weeks. Since 2008, Carvalho has been the superintendent of the Miami-Dade County Public Schools.

Copyright (c) 2021, Los Angeles Times. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency.


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Student Well-Being Webinar
A Whole Child Approach to Supporting Positive Student Behavior 
To improve student behavior, it’s important to look at the root causes. Social-emotional learning may play a preventative role.

A whole child approach can proactively support positive student behaviors.

Join this webinar to learn how.
Content provided by Panorama
Recruitment & Retention Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table: Why Retaining Education Leaders of Color Is Key for Student Success
Today, in the United States roughly 53 percent of our public school students are young people of color, while approximately 80 percent of the educators who lead their classrooms, schools, and districts are white. Racial
Jobs January 2022 Virtual Career Fair for Teachers and K-12 Staff
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School & District Management 3 Ways School Districts Can Ease the Pain of Supply Chain Chaos
Have a risk management plan, pay attention to what's happening up the supply chain, and be adaptable when necessary.
3 min read
Cargo Ship - Supply Chain with products such as classroom chairs, milk, paper products, and electronics
iStock/Getty Images Plus
School & District Management Vulnerable Students, Districts at Greater Risk as Natural Disasters Grow More Frequent
New federal research indicates the harm from fires and storms to school facilities, learning, and mental health is disproportionate.
4 min read
Helina Thorp, right, 14, expresses frustration while unsuccessfully trying to log in to her school distance-learning classes in Placerville, Calif., after Pacific Gas & Electric intentionally shut off power to prevent wildfires amid high winds in September 2020.
Helina Thorp, right, 14, expresses frustration while unsuccessfully trying to log in to her school distance-learning classes in Placerville, Calif., after Pacific Gas & Electric shut off power to prevent wildfires amid high winds in September 2020.
Daniel Kim/The Sacramento Bee via AP
School & District Management Opinion What It Takes for Universities to Conduct Useful Education Research
Many institutions lack the resources to make research-school partnerships successful, warns Thomas S. Dee.
Thomas S. Dee
3 min read
Illustration of coworkers collaborating.
School & District Management Opinion Trust Keeps Our School-Research Relationship Alive in the Pandemic
An educator and a researcher describe how their team was able to nudge forward a plan for equity even as COVID changed almost everything.
Katherine Mortimer & Scott Gray
3 min read
Illustration of coworkers analyzing data.