Los Angeles school board delays vaccine mandate until next year due to low compliance

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The Los Angeles school board has voted to table a COVID-19 vaccination requirement until next fall because not enough students have complied.

Reports said that the board decided on the delay Tuesday, while also voting to hold off on expanding the vaccine mandate to charter schools that fall under the school district’s authority.

The decision to hold off on the mandate came with the realization that some 28,000 students still had not gotten a vaccine, though 87 percent of the Los Angeles Unified School District student body above the age of 12 had done so, the Los Angeles Times reported.

However, board members were clear that the vaccine mandate was not going to be scrapped altogether, just delayed.

“I want to tell those of you who come and … think you pushed us back. No, you didn’t. The mandate remains,” said school board member Jackie Goldberg.

She also noted that the decision to push the mandate back was also in response to concerns about vaccinated students because of disruptions they would experience if tens of thousands of students were sent to online classroom instruction in the middle of the current academic year.

“I felt like we were ending up with a situation in which those who complied would be the most negatively affected,” Goldberg told the Times. “I think we have no choice.”

The board’s decision comes one day after Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mitchell L. Beckloff upheld the vaccine requirement, refusing to issue an injunction as requested by several parent organizations, the L.A. Times reported.

“The conditions that the board is facing today, and the policy adjustments are not, in my opinion, a reversal of decisions made,” said incoming Supt. Alberto Carvalho, adding that he believes the decision is “an evolution of the previous board position” recognizing what is best for students.

“We support the district’s student and employee vaccinations requirements that remain our community’s best line of defense against COVID-19,” United Teachers Los Angeles Secretary Arlene Inouye added. “We also understand the huge challenges and potentially disastrous impact that transferring 30,000 students into an online independent study program would create for our students and their families.

“It’s been disturbing to learn that the district’s COVID health mandates have not equally applied to all students and staff at independent charters, and we are encouraged to see that the district is taking positive steps to address this problem,” Inouye said.

Several other entities are either canceling vaccine mandates or also putting them on hold pending the outcome in federal court after several judges have blocked them for federal workers, federal contractors, and private sector businesses with 100 or more employees.

According to polling firm Gallup, the percentage of U.S. workers who face a vaccine mandate has ‘stalled‘ at 36 percent, the same figure the firm reported in October.

Forty-three percent of workers surveyed said that their employers encourage them to get the jab but are not requiring them to do so, while 21 percent of employers reported having no vaccine policy.

“The relatively small proportion of unvaccinated workers employed at jobs with vaccination requirements, compared with those employed at places without them, suggests that such mandates can be an effective way to get more Americans vaccinated,” Gallup wrote.

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