By CBSLA Staff

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — The Los Angeles Unified School District announced Thursday it would require all students and employees returning for in-person instruction to participate in weekly COVID testing regardless of vaccination status.

“As part of our efforts to maintain the safest possible environment for students and employees, we are closely monitoring evolving health conditions and adapting our response in preparation for our full return to in-person learning on August 16,” Interim Superintendent Megan K. Reilly said in an email.

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“All students and employees, both vaccinated and unvaccinated, returning for in-person instruction must participate in baseline and ongoing weekly COVID testing. This is in accordance with the most recent guidance from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. Baseline testing begins on Monday, August 2.”

Reilly also said that the district would continue to require masking for all students, staff, and visitors, maximize physical distancing, continue sanitizing efforts and collaborated with health partners and agencies to support free COVID vaccination.

“Ultimately, the greatest protection against COVID and the Delta variant is vaccination,” Reilly said. “We encourage everyone who is eligible to be vaccinated.

Nicolle Fefferman, an LAUSD teacher and parent, reacted to Thursday’s announcement from the district for the upcoming school year which starts next month.

“Until we can get more people vaccinated, the more testing we can do the better,” she said.

Fefferman is a high school teacher and has a 12-year-old who’s vaccinated, an eight-year-old who can’t get vaccinated.

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“I applaud LAUSD for taking this step,” she said.

Danna Rosenthal, another LAUSD parent, has been critical of the school closures.

“I want my kid in person,” she said. “I can’t do another year of this. It’s going to be drastic if they’re going to start talking about closing down schools.”

Dr. Jeffrey Klausner, a clinical professor at USC’s Keck School of Medicine, says children between five and 17 have rarely been impacted by COVID.

“It is very important to have kids in school.,” Klausner said. “So, the fact that they have to wear masks or get tested weekly or a vaccination, to me that’s less of a burden than not having them in school, in terms of an impact on their education, their socialization.”

This is not just about me, this is about we,”  Fefferman said. “This is about a community effort to protect each other.”

The LAUSD says COVID testing begins on Monday, August 2 and the full return in-person learning starts two weeks after that.

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Meanwhile Thursday, Los Angeles County reported 3,248 new COVID-19 cases, along with 17 new deaths.