LOS ANGELES (CNS) — In a move that would prevent more than 30,000 students from being forced back to remote learning, the Los Angeles Unified School District board next week will consider delaying enforcement of its COVID- 19 vaccine mandate for students until fall 2022.
The district's mandate currently requires all students aged 12 and up to have received their second dose of vaccine by Dec. 19. Students taking part in extracurricular programs were required to receive their second dose by Oct. 31.
Students who fail to meet the mandate would be forced into remote-learning programs.
But in a statement Friday, the district announced that the Board of Education will meet Tuesday to consider delaying the mandate's enforcement until the start of the fall semester next year.
"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."
The district's mandate does not include students under age 12, who are only encouraged -- but not required -- to get vaccinated.
Even with an 86.5% compliance rate, however, more than 30,000 students who are failing to meet the mandate were in danger of being pushed into remote learning when classes resume in mid-January.
District officials said they will continue working to ensure all students have access to vaccines, and that their families receive the information they need "to make an informed choice" about vaccinating their children.
Even if the board delays enforcement of the vaccine mandate, the district will continue to require baseline and weekly testing of all students and staff, regardless of vaccination status, through January. Beginning in February, only unvaccinated students will be required to undergo weekly testing.
"Abundant praise and gratitude to the Los Angeles Unified students and families who have already met the vaccination requirement, staff who have worked under extreme hardship with grace and professionalism, and our partners, who have supported our health and safety efforts,* Reilly said in her statement.
"Together, we continue to move toward the best and safest possible learning environment for all students and families."