About 80% of students in Los Angeles’ Unified School District are well on their way to meeting a COVID-19 vaccine mandate, school district officials said Monday, expressing concerns about the potential that thousands of students are out of face-to-face classes for the start of the spring semester on January 10th.
The number represents a significant step up – and officials hope many more students have been vaccinated but have simply not uploaded any records to the school district yet. Approximately 225,000 students aged 12 and over are covered by the mandate, half of the district’s enrollment. According to the latest data, around 44,000 students failed to meet the deadline.
Sunday was the deadline announced by the district for students to get their first vaccination, although they could still get a first dose in the first week of December and still have enough time to achieve maximum immunity by the start of the next semester.
“The deadlines for the first and second dose of Los Angeles Unified for eligible students 12 and older are designed to ensure students receive the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccination before the holiday season,” said district spokeswoman Shannon Haber. Students are vacationing this week for an extended Thanksgiving break.
“As families upload their vaccination cards to our Daily Pass system, we expect the number of vaccinated students to increase once students return to campus on November 29th and we are nearing the deadline for the second dose on December 19th” said Haber.
Families who fail to do so will have to enroll their children outside of LA Unified or transfer them to the City of Angels program, an independent study program that was adjusted this year to offer live online classes. City of Angels is plagued by staff shortages and instability. Parents of students with special needs were especially upset about the program’s limitations – and many waited weeks before they could get meaningful lessons.
If the deadlines fall earlier than strictly necessary, district officials will have more time to prepare for what might happen. About 16,000 students are currently enrolled in City of Angels. The potential influx of around 44,000 could overwhelm the resources of the City of Angels as the program is currently structured.
Compliance with the mandate means that students either have an approved medical exemption, have an infrequent approved extension, or have been given an injection. Students aged 18 and over can get the Johnson & Johnson one-shot vaccine – an option that would only take two weeks for maximum immunity. For those 12 to 17 year olds, the only current option is the Pfizer BioNTech syringe, which requires three weeks between doses and then a two week wait for maximum immunity.