The Los Angeles Unified School District will require all students 12 and older to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 by Jan. 10, the district said Thursday.
LAUSD is the first major school district in the United States to mandate the vaccination for eligible students.
"Our goal is to keep kids and teachers as safe as possible, and in the classroom," Board Vice President Nick Melvoin said in a statement after the board of education approved the plan at a special meeting Thursday. "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."
Students will be required to be fully vaccinated unless they have a medical or other exemption. Proof of vaccination must be uploaded into Los Angeles Unified’s Daily Pass system, the district said.
With more than 600,000 students enrolled, LAUSD is the second-largest school district in the country, and it already requires students and employees to undergo weekly Covid-19 testing regardless of their vaccination status.
More than 5,000 students in Los Angeles County have tested positive for Covid since the start of the school year, NBC Los Angeles reported, and school staffers are required to be fully vaccinated by Oct. 15.
Students who “are part of in-person extracurricular programs” like sports or band will be required to get their second dose of vaccine no later than Oct. 31, according to the district proposal.
Students will be required to show "proof of vaccination" before they’re allowed back on campus after winter break, the proposal stated.
The proposed student vaccination mandate had the backing of United Teachers Los Angeles, the union that represents LAUSD teachers.
Students with “qualified and approved exemptions and conditional admissions” will still be able to opt out of getting the shots, but the proposal does not spell out what those might be.
It also stipulated that students would have to get their first shot no later than 30 days after their 12th birthday and their second dose no later than eight weeks after that birthday.
The vote comes as Covid-19 cases have been on the rise across the United States because of the delta variant.
“The percentage of children hospitalized after testing positive for COVID-19 has been disproportionately rising, indicating that children are at a greater risk from contracting the Delta variant due to high transmission rates with possibility of long-term symptoms from COVID-19,” the proposal stated.
LAUSD is not the first school district in Los Angeles County to insist on a student vaccine mandate.
Earlier, the much smaller Culver City Unified School District approved such a mandate. In Northern California, Oakland Unified School District is expected to take up a similar proposal at next week’s school board meeting.
At least a dozen other school districts across the state are considering student vaccine mandates, NBC Los Angeles reported.
Students under age 12 are ineligible for Covid-19 vaccines, since none of the currently available vaccinations has been approved for use in that age group.
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, however, has been authorized on an emergency use basis for people ages 12 to 15. It has full approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for people 16 and over.