U.S.|A California school district will require older students to be vaccinated.
A small school district in Los Angeles County will require older students to be vaccinated for Covid-19 if they’re eligible, the district’s superintendent said in a letter to families this week.
Although California educators have already been ordered to be vaccinated or else face regular testing, the Culver City Unified School District is believed to be the first in the state — and possibly the nation — to require students 12 and older to be inoculated.
More mandates could be on the way after the Food and Drug Administration grants full approval to the vaccine and allows children under 12 to get it. Both decisions are expected in the coming days or weeks.
The district also expanded masking requirements for some students and staff members and will require weekly Covid testing for both students and employees, regardless of their vaccine status.
The announcement came just before the start of the district’s school year on Thursday and in the midst of nationwide tumult over how to safely bring children — including millions who are too young to be eligible for vaccines — back to classrooms as the Delta variant of the coronavirus rages.
New cases and rising hospitalizations across the country have thrown into disarray what many hoped would be a fresh start, particularly in California, where many students had spent more than a year learning from home.
In California, successfully reopening schools has also become a political imperative for Gov. Gavin Newsom, who is facing a recall effort fueled in part by parents’ frustrations over prolonged school closures. In recent weeks, he has framed vaccine and indoor maskmandates at schools and other workplaces as prudent, science-driven precautions that his chief rivals, like the conservative talk radio host Larry Elder, would immediately remove.
The biggest California teachers unions supported the state’s vaccine mandate for educators, although some, like the large and powerful United Teachers Los Angeles, said that other measures were needed, too, and pointed to the Los Angeles Unified School District’s requirement for students and staff to be tested regularly.
Los Angeles Unified is one of the nation’s largest school districts with more than 628,000 students spread across 710 square miles.
Culver City Unified, by contrast, has around 7,100 students. According to local public health data, about 87 percent of Culver City’s 35,400 residents over the age of 12 have been vaccinated, one of the highest rates in Los Angeles County.
School administrators were working to figure out the best way to administer the required tests, the district said, and proof of vaccination would be due on Nov. 19.
“As we have all learned, we may need to change quickly to adapt to new information,” Quoc Tran, the district’s superintendent, said in the message to families. “We are excited to have everyone back for a safe school experience.”