The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) has officially announced a brand new policy this past week that requires every single student, teacher, and staffer who plans on returning to campus to be subjected to a weekly COVID-19 test, With no regard to vaccination status.
LAUSD, which is the nation’s second-largest public school system, currently has around 75,000 employees that educate and serve well over 600,000 k-12 students. Previously, it has required coronavirus testing, but only for those who have not been fully vaccinated. Currently, any children younger than 12 are not yet able to get their vaccine.
Megan K.Reilly, the current Interim Superintendent, put out the statement that contained the new mandate as part of a letter sent to parents this past Thursday.
“As part of our efforts to maintain the safest possible environment for students and employees, we are closely monitoring evolving health conditions and adapting our response in preparation for our full return to in-person learning on August 16,” Reilly stated in her letter.
“All students and employees, both vaccinated and unvaccinated, returning for in-person instruction must participate in baseline and ongoing weekly COVID testing,” she went on. “This is in accordance with the most recent guidance from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.”
As reported by the Los Angeles Times, “The county health department does not require testing those at schools who are vaccinated, but it permits local school systems to adopt a more stringent testing policy.”
As currently slated, baseline testing for all students planning to return to campus started on Monday, August 2nd.
As reported by The Times, the current deadline for all families to choose distance learning and continue to remain off-campus was this past Friday.
On Friday, health officials for the county issued a report showing 3,606 new cases of COVID-19, 991 hospitalizations of affected people, and 5 fatalities. This recent spike in transmissions has been attributed to the new and highly infectious delta variant of the coronavirus.
This past Thursday, Barbara Ferrer, the L.A. County Public Health Director, stated that the department was currently not considering an order to close all schools and made it a point that vaccination strategy is the best one to curb infection rates.
As obtained from the most recent data sent out by the health department, roughly 45.8% of children aged 12-15 have gotten at least one dose of the vaccine, and around 58.3% of 16 and 17-year-olds have taken the jab at least once.
“It’s crystal clear that vaccination rates among younger people across the board in L.A. County are much lower than they are for older people, and with more opportunities for intermingling,” stated Ferrer on Thursday.
The United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA), which is the union representing over 33,000 district employees, put out a statement in support of the new weekly testing.
“Vaccines are like seatbelts: necessary but not invincible,” stated UTLA President Cecily Myart-Cruz, as reported by the LA Times. “Just like we need seatbelts, airbags, and speed limits, we need masks, ventilation, and testing to keep school communities safe.”