The Oakland Board of Education has voted to require students 12 and older to be vaccinated against the coronavirus to attend in-person school.
The move late Wednesday makes Oakland Unified the first school district in Northern California to adopt a vaccine requirement. It came after Los Angeles Unified, the state’s largest school district, and the smaller Southern California district of Culver City approved similar policies for their students earlier this month.
Several other school boards in the San Francisco Bay Area are considering similar measures, including West Contra Costa County Unified and Berkeley Unified, as schools try to navigate in-person instruction during the pandemic.
The plan in Oakland, which serves about 50,000 students, will require all students age 12 and older to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 unless they are granted medical or “personal belief” exemptions, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
The resolution does not specify a timeline or say how students’ vaccination status will be tracked. It requires Superintendent Kyla Johnson-Tramell to “develop recommendations for enforcement of this vaccine requirement” and report them to the board by October.
California requires public school staff to either be vaccinated or submit to weekly testing starting Oct. 15 but there is no similar statewide rule regarding students.
Asked at a Thursday media briefing if the state will require eligible school children be vaccinated against COVID-19 to attend in-person classes, California’s secretary of health and human services said there is “no definitive action or decision” right now. But Dr. Mark Ghaly said requiring students be inoculated to attend school is nothing new.
“We’re watching the experience in Los Angeles, understanding what it means for students and families alike, staff as well, and watching as other counties consider the same,” he said. “So that conversation is happening.”
There is no data on how many students are already vaccinated in Oakland Unified but in the city of Oakland, 54% of 12-to-17-year-olds are fully vaccinated and 71% have received at least one dose, according to the school board’s proposal.