In response to a recent surge in COVID-19 cases and concerns over the omicron variant, the Los Angeles Unified School District will be requiring students and staff to get tested for coronavirus before returning to school after winter break next week, officials announced Monday.
Testing will be mandated regardless of vaccination status, and students and staff will be required to show proof of a negative test in order to return to school.
Testing will be available starting Monday, officials said.
The spring semester for the nation’s second-largest school district is now set to start Jan. 10, though students won’t be back on campus until the following day.
Families can upload test results to a student’s “daily pass” account, and will be required to do so no later than Sunday.
Weekly coronavirus testing will continue through the month for all students and employees, officials said.
Information about testing sites is available here.
At-home rapid tests are also available for K-12 students. They can be picked up Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. at any LAUSD grab-and-go sites. Each student can get two self tests. Information about the pick up sites can be found here.
Additionally, L.A. County is offering free at-home test kits via mail to residents who have experienced symptoms, or believe they may have been exposed.
Masking is still required for students at all times both indoors and outdoors, and last week, L.A. County health officials indicated school staff will be required to wear medical-grade masks and students will have to mask up outdoors when it’s crowded.
Officials are also encouraging eligible students to get vaccinated and boosted against COVID-19.
On Monday, the FDA expanded booster shots for children as young as 12, and the CDC is expected to make a final decision on the matter next week.
The new requirements come as the region is experiencing an explosion in coronavirus cases, largely due to the omicron variant.
Fresh off the holiday weekend, the county reported 16,269 new cases Monday.
In a news release, health officials urged parents and children to take precautions as pediatric hospitalizations increased by nearly 190% between Dec. 4 and Dec. 25.
“As students return to the classroom, we all need to follow the public health safety measures in place to ensure our schools can open safely after the winter break,” Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said in the release. “Because higher community transmission creates additional challenges at our schools, everyone needs to do their part to slow the spread of the virus.”