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Second-Largest School District Flinches In Standoff With Parents Over Student Vaccine Deadline

The nation’s second-largest school district is set to reconsider its Jan. 10 COVID-19 vaccine deadline for all students 12 and older, potentially delaying the requirement until next fall, according to a press release.

The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) cited its high vaccination rate, saying 86.52% of students have complied with its current vaccine requirements in the press release. The LAUSD Board of Education plans to discuss its Jan. 10 deadline by which all students 12 and older must be vaccinated or will be forced to switch to an “online independent study program,” potentially pushing the requirement to fall of 2022.

“The science is clear – vaccinations are an essential part of protection against COVID-19,” Interim Superintendent Megan K. Reilly said. “Los Angeles Unified applauds the 86.52 percent of students aged 12 and older and their families who are in compliance with the vaccine mandate, and the many other families who are still in the process of adding their vaccine records to the system. This is a major milestone, and there’s still more time to get vaccinated!”

Parents across the district have protested the vaccine mandate and argue that the remote learning alternative is not on par with in-person learning. A “Parents Call the Shots” protest organized by LAUSD parents was held on Dec. 5, KTLA 5 reported.

“They are being excluded, isolated, segregated and shamed and bullied for decision that isn’t even theirs to make,” Los Angeles resident Jennifer Kennedy told KTLA 5.

The “independent study program” for unvaccinated students includes no live instruction, Angeleno Monica Sanders told KTLA 5. “If you want to get into UCLA or UCSD or wherever, you need to have AP classes. They will cancel that for you and you cannot continue in those classes. You can’t take the exams because you’re not in school.”

Two parents groups have called for a preliminary injunction against LAUSD’s requirement, which includes 930 parents who are members of Protection of the Educational Rights of Kids and 540 who are members of the California Chapter of Children’s Health Defense, the Los Angeles Times reported.

On Tuesday, the district fired nearly 500 employees for failing to comply with the district’s vaccine mandate, the first of its kind and among the strictest in the nation, NBC 4 reported. New York City Public Schools required its teachers and staff to get vaccinated, but the requirement has been repeatedly challenged in court.

“We are requiring these Covid-19 vaccinations, because we continue to prioritize the health and safety of our students and employees,” board member George J. McKenna III said when the requirement was announced on Sept. 9. “Mandatory immunizations for eligible students protect the entire Los Angeles Unified family.”

Delaying the vaccine mandate until next fall allows more time for uploading vaccine records, obtaining vaccines for students five and older or booster shots for employees and offering “educational opportunities and outreach to families about the vaccine – especially those who remain vaccine-hesitant,” the press release said.

LAUSD will require baseline and weekly testing of all students and staff through January, regardless of whether or not they are vaccinated, the release said. In February, only those who don’t have a proof of vaccination will be required to get tested regularly.

The district has a higher vaccination rate for students 12 and older than average when compared to the “general population” of kids the same age within the district’s boundaries.

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