The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) voted last week to require COVID-19 vaccinations for all students ages 12 and up. While there are some exemptions available, religious and personal objections to the vaccine are not among them.
“All students who are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine are required to be vaccinated, excluding those with qualified exemptions or conditional admissions,” the LAUSD website’s “Safe Steps to Safe School” page now reads. The board voted Thursday to implement the mandate for all students who wish to take classes in-person.
A qualified exemption, the guidance explained, includes a medical exemption, but not a religious or personal belief exemption, as those are not recognized by state law. However, the school said that students “may be conditionally admitted,” meaning exempted from the vaccine mandate, if they are in one of these groups”: foster youth, homeless, migrant, military family, or has an Individualized Education Plan (IEP).
Students participating in sports or extracurricular must upload proof of vaccination status to a school district app used to coordinate COVID-19 testing and screen students for symptoms by late October, while everyone else has until late December. Those who fail to do so by the deadline will not be allowed to return to school in person following winter break.
“This action is not about violating anybody’s rights,” said school board member Monica Garcia of the drastic new requirements. “This action is about doing our job to be able to offer public schools that children can come to school and be safe.”
The move was hailed by the district’s teachers’ union, United Teachers Los Angeles, which had been lobbying for such a mandate after the requirement for teachers was first introduced.
“COVID-19 is mutating, being transmitted to our students, and vaccines remain our community’s best line of defense to prevent continued spread of disease,” said Cecily Myart-Cruz, the union’s president.
The student population of LAUSD is nearly three-fourths Latino and many are impoverished. The Associated Press notes that poor Latino adults are vaccinated at a lower rate than the state average.
LAUSD is the first major school district in the country to require students to be vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus, yet it is very likely that others may soon follow.
While it has become verboten to question the safety of the vaccine, safety concerns nonetheless remain, particularly among teenagers who take the vaccine.
Worthy of note is one recent study by an epidemiologist out of the University of California-Davis that indicated teenage boys have a six times greater risk of experiencing heart inflammation or other adverse cardiac effects as a result of the COVID-19 vaccine than they do of experiencing complications from COVID-19 itself. What a dilemma these parents are being forced into!
LAUSD already has some of the most aggressive measures in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and yet they’ve gone one remarkable step further with this far-reaching requirement just on the heels of President Joe Biden’s stunning announcement that the Department of Labor will be issuing harsh punishment for businesses with 100 or more employees who do not require the vaccine or weekly testing.
All the while, COVID-19 cases continue to rise, and more doubt is cast on the potency of the vaccine or the authoritarian measures implemented to ward off the virus.
How far are the powers that be going to go to ensure that the entire population is vaccinated, adults and children alike, and to what end? Students are already diving into a third irregular school year, and on top of the existential anxiety caused by the current state of affairs, they’re forced to swath their faces, socially distance from their friends, and undergo routine testing for a virus that doesn’t even pose a statistically significant threat to their lives.
LAUSD has a majority-minority population of students, the population of Americans that we are so often told are victims of an irredeemably racist system. Is this not the same system now forcing them to get vaccinated — or be kicked out of school to live a segregated existence?
When all is said and done, what will these dubiously effective measures to prevent the spread of the virus have cost our society, really? If Americans end up losing their civil liberties and segregation again becomes a way of life, it will certainly mean that the cure turned out to be worse than the disease — much worse.