The Los Angeles Unified School District is recommending delaying the student COVID-19 vaccine requirement until next year, Superintendent Alberto M. Carvalho announced Thursday.
The superintendent said that, after consulting with health experts and the medical director, he will ask the Board of Education to push the mandate to no sooner than July 1, 2023.
If approved, the delay would align the nation’s second largest school district with the state of California’s student requirement for COVID-19 vaccinations.
“The ability of our system to pivot shows that we are a science-based school district and the health and safety protocols we adopt are influenced by the expert advice of our medical partners and public health officials,” Carvalho said in a statement.
He cited high vaccination rates among students 12 and older, low virus transmission rates on campuses and LAUSD’s COVID-19 safety measures for the district’s ability to keep in-person learning in place.
“We have high vaccination rates amongst our students 12 years and older and with our employees,” Los Angeles Unified Medical Director Dr. Smita Malhotra said. “We have demonstrated low transmission rates in our schools with few outbreaks. And now, since the beginning of the pandemic, not only do we have the existence of therapeutics to deal with COVID-19, but scientists also have a greater understanding of this virus.”
Carvalho’s announcement comes after California state officials this month announced they will delay Gov. Gavin Newsom’s statewide COVID-19 vaccine mandate for schoolchildren until 2023.
It also came one day after L.A. County Department of Public Health officials noted an increase in school-associated COVID-19 across the county following the spring break.
However, LAUSD shared a statement from Dr. Vladimir Manuel of the UCLA Clinical and Translational Science Institute, who said there has been “no or very small amounts” of classroom transmission at LAUSD since January — even after lifting the mask mandates.
“Vaccinations are and remain our greatest tool to fight against COVID-19,” Carvalho said. “For the remainder of the school year, we will further improve our student vaccination rates via accessible school-based clinics, while offering vaccines for all students ages 5 and older.”
The COVID-19 vaccination requirement for Los Angeles Unified employees remains in place, and the district says that all employees who are assigned to schools are vaccinated.
The L.A. Unified Board of Education is expected to vote on the recommendation to delay enforcing the student vaccine mandate at a May 10 board meeting.