Many LAUSD students do not meet first COVID vaccine deadline

About 80% of students in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) are on track to meet the COVID-19 vaccine mandate, school district officials announced Monday, raising concerns about the possibility. thousands of students are displaced from classes in person at the beginning of the spring semester, on January 10.

The figure represents substantial progress, and officials hope that many more students have been vaccinated and simply have not yet uploaded the documentation to the school district. Approximately 225,000 students ages 12 and older are covered by the mandate, half of the district’s enrollment. By percentage, nearly 44,000 students missed the deadline, whether it was getting at least one shot, getting a medical exemption, or an unusual extension.

The experience of the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), the second largest school district in the nation and the first major system to pass such a requirement, represents an early test of student compliance levels with immunization mandates. The vast majority of families seem on track, but the district will face logistical problems and tough decisions if that number doesn’t increase rapidly.

Last Sunday was the deadline for students to receive a first injection, although they could receive it until the first week of December and still have enough time for their second dose and achieve maximum immunity at the beginning of the next term. “Los Angeles Unified School District first and second dose deadlines for eligible students are designed to ensure that children are safely and effectively vaccinated before the holiday season,” said district spokeswoman Shannon Haber. .

This week, students are on vacation for the extended Thanksgiving break. “As families upload their immunization records to our system, Daily Pass, we expect the number of students vaccinated to increase once they return to campus on November 29 and as we approach the deadline for the second dose, December 19, “Haber added.

Families that do not comply will have to enroll their children outside of the Los Angeles Unified School District or transfer them to City of Angels, an independent study program that was adapted this year to include online instruction. City of Angels was affected by staff shortages and instability. Parents of students with special needs have been particularly upset about the limitations of the program, and many students waited weeks before having meaningful instruction.

Having earlier deadlines gives district officials more time to prepare for what might happen. About 16,000 students are currently enrolled at City of Angels. The potential influx of many thousands more could overwhelm the program.

Because there was no immediate sanction attached to Sunday’s deadline, some parents may not have taken the measure seriously, especially since the absolute cap remains within seven weeks, said Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, professor. UC San Francisco Infectious Disease and Medicine Department. “There is the flexible and the real deadline; I do not think that people consider this moment as the real deadline, “said the specialist.

He also noted that there was a last-minute rush in the Los Angeles Unified School District when the mandate for employees went into effect. “If you look at human behavior, it was the week before, or the day before the deadline, that people acted,” he said. “I’m trying to be optimistic.”

Ultimately, about 97% of district employees were vaccinated or successfully applied for an exemption. About 600 employees were able to move to the City of Angels, where there is no face-to-face contact with students or other workers.

But not everyone and not all types of work can be accommodated that way. Those job changes resulted in a mid-year hiatus for students, both at City of Angels and on the campuses left behind by transfer teachers. Some districts with employee vaccination mandates backed down from strict enforcement of the measure, including the nation’s third-largest school system, in Chicago.

Among the few districts nationwide with student immunization mandates are California’s two largest, Los Angeles and San Diego Unified. Term details and timing differ by district. San Diego applies it to those 16 years of age and older, for whom a vaccine is fully licensed by the US Food and Drug Administration. Other school systems allow an exemption for sincere religious beliefs, something the LA Unified School District allows to employees but not to students.

In October, Governor Gavin Newsom announced a pending state mandate, but it would not take effect before July at the earliest, and it currently includes personal belief exemptions.

Students 18 and older can receive the Johnson & Johnson single dose, an option that would take just two weeks to achieve maximum immunity. For those 12 to 17, the only current option is the Pfizer-BioNTech injection, which requires three weeks between doses and then a two-week waiting period to achieve maximum immunity.

“LAUSD is one of the nation’s leaders in terms of implementing public health measures, including regular testing, the use of masks, and now vaccinating eligible students,” said Dr. Robert Kim-Farley, professor. of epidemiology and community health sciences at UCLA’s Fielding School of Public Health. “These measures help ensure that our children learn in an environment that is as safe as possible from the transmission of COVID-19.”

The expert called the 80% figure “encouraging,” but echoed Chin-Hong, adding: “We need to continue informing and educating students and parents about the importance of all eligible people getting vaccinated.”

The scope includes prizes worth $ 5 million, as well as campus and pop-up vaccination clinics throughout the school system.

Both the Los Angeles Unified District and the San Diego Unified District face lawsuits over the immunization requirement. Some parents are inflexible on the subject; they have participated in protests and also through calls to LAUSD school board meetings – in-person public speakers have yet to return since the onset of the pandemic.

“Soon they will lose thousands of students,” said a parent who called. “Parents are organizing… And we will not comply [con este mandato]”.

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