LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — All eligible students age 12 and over in the Los Angeles Unified School District will be required to get vaccinated against COVID-19 to attend in-person classes under a policy unanimously approved by the district’s Board of Education Thursday.
The mandate from the second largest school district in the nation requires “COVID-19 vaccinations for all students who access in-person instructional programs operated on district facilities, who are 12 years of age and older.” None of the vaccines currently available are approved for use in children younger than 12.
Students age 12 and older who take part in in-person extracurricular programs will have to receive their first vaccine dose by Oct. 3, and their second no later than Oct. 31. All other students aged 12 and up must receive their first dose by Nov. 21, and their second by Dec. 19.
Younger students will have to receive their first dose no later than 30 days after their 12th birthday, and their second dose no later than eight weeks after turning 12.
“As a parent with vaccinated kids, I’m happy my kids are as safe as they possibly can be,” Jennifer Kenna said.
LAUSD, which serves over 600,000 students at more than 1,000 schools, already has one of the strictest coronavirus safety protocols in the country in place by requiring weekly COVID testing for all students and employees, regardless of vaccination status.
There is also a mandate in place that requires all LAUSD employees to be fully vaccinated by Oct. 15.
“By the start of the spring semester, every student 12 and up who is eligible and doesn’t have an exemption will have received the vaccine—ideally by LA Unified,” LAUSD Board Member Tanya Ortiz Franklin said. “We’ll be providing it.”
United Teachers Los Angeles, the union which represents the district’s teachers, recently voiced support for a vaccine mandate for students.
Some parents protested at Thursday’s meeting, arguing the vaccine for children does not yet have full approval from the Food and Drug Administration.
However, board members seemed confident in their decision.
“I think we also owe it to the kids to return to a sense of normality in school,” said Nick Melvoin, LAUSD Board vice president. “To work towards a future where we’re not quarantining thousands of kids. Where kids don’t have to miss class to get tested weekly. Where we’re not spending over $5 million a week on testing.”
According to the L.A. County Department of Public Health, 62% of residents aged 12-15 in Los Angeles County had received at least one dose of vaccine as of Sept. 5, and 51% are fully vaccinated. In the 16-17 age group, 69% have had at least one dose, and 59% are fully vaccinated.
The Culver City Unified School District was the first in California to require eligible students to get vaccinated.
(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)