About 80% of students in the Los Angeles Unified School District are on track to comply with a COVID-19 vaccine mandate, school district officials announced Monday, raising concerns about the potential for thousands of students to be displaced from in-person classes for the start of the spring semester on Jan. 10 .
The figure represents substantial progress — and officials hope many more students have been vaccinated, but simply have not yet uploaded documentation to the school district. About 225,000 students ages 12 and older fall under the mandate, half of the district’s enrollment. The current data means that about 44,000 students have not met the deadline.
Sunday was the district’s announced deadline for students to get a first shot, although they could get a first dose as late as the first week in December and still have enough time to achieve maximum immunity by the beginning of the next term.
“Los Angeles Unified’s first and second dose deadlines for eligible students 12 and older are designed to ensure students receive the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccination before the holiday season,” district spokesperson Shannon Haber said. Students are on vacation this week for an extended Thanksgiving break.
“As families upload their vaccination records to our Daily Pass system, we expect the number of vaccinated students to increase once students return to campus on November 29 and as we approach the December 19 second-dose deadline,” Haber said.
Families that don’t comply will have to enroll their children outside of L.A. Unified or transfer them to the City of Angels program, an independent study program that was adapted this year to include some live online instruction. City of Angels has been beset by staffing shortages and instability. Parents of students with special needs have been particularly upset at the limitations of the program — and many waited weeks before being able to receive any meaningful instruction.
Having deadlines fall earlier than absolutely necessary gives district officials more time to prepare for what could happen. About 16,000 students are currently enrolled in City of Angels. The possible influx of some 44,000 would have the potential to overwhelm resources at City of Angels, as the program is currently structured.
Compliance with the mandate means that students either have an approved medical exemption, have a rare authorized extension or have received a shot. Students 18 and older can receive the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine — an option that would take only two weeks to achieve maximum immunity. For those 12 to 17, the only current option is the Pfizer-BioNTech shot, which requires three weeks between doses and then a two-week waiting period to achieve maximum immunity.