Students participating in in-person extracurricular activities need both shots sooner, by the end of October. The resolution mentions “qualified and approved exemptions” but does not offer details.
Initial data on infections at Los Angeles schools this academic year has been reassuring. According to a Los Angeles Times tracker based on district data, 1,385 active Covid-19 cases had been identified at schools as of Tuesday; four were linked to on-campus transmissions, and a single school had a campus outbreak.
Like many districts, Los Angeles Unified has been operating vaccine clinics in schools. It has the nation’s broadest school testing program, screening all students and staff members for infection weekly. Masks are required for every individual on campus, indoors and outdoors, and staff members must be vaccinated, with limited exceptions for serious medical conditions and sincerely held religious beliefs.
The four-month timeline before proof of vaccination is required on Jan. 10 would allow the district to partner with community organizations, clinics and doctors’ offices to reach approximately 80,000 students who are eligible for vaccination but have not been inoculated, Mr. Melvoin said. The district might knock on doors, in an effort similar to the one encouraging families to fill out the U.S. census.
The task will be logistically complicated in a large, sprawling district like Los Angeles. And while not every eligible student will be fully vaccinated by Christmas, the timing of the required first and second shots should allow students to gain at least some protection against the virus before the holiday season, when cases surged last year.
“We did not want to set the district up for failure by setting a deadline that had to be pushed back,” Mr. Melvoin said.
A key constituency supporting a student vaccine mandate is the city’s teachers’ union, United Teachers Los Angeles. The group has pushed for stringent safety measures throughout the pandemic and, during the previous academic year, a longer period of remote learning. The union continues to ask for more aggressive quarantines for those exposed to the virus.