The Los Angeles Unified School Board put the matter to a vote in a special meeting, with the decision being unanimous, CNN reports. Fears of skyrocketing cases due to the delta variant and other mutations urged the proposal, particularly since statistics show that vaccinations decrease infections and hospitalizations.
Eligible students who are at least 12 years old are required to get their first dose by Nov. 21 at the latest and their second by Dec. 19. Students who take part in extracurricular activities that meet in person have an earlier deadline of Oct. 3 for the first dose and Oct. 31 for the second.
Students with “qualified and approved exemptions” will have the chance to opt out but what exactly those conditions are have yet to be specified.
“As the second-largest district in the country, with a richly diverse student population, we know the impact and experiences of COVID-19 are varied amongst our students and our families, and that there are different levels of comfort and discomfort with the vaccine and other COVID-related safety measures,” Interim Superintendent Megan Reilly said.
“Along with these truths, our charge remains clear: to provide students with the best education possible, which includes the many benefits of in-person learning,” she added.
The Los Angeles Unified public schools serve 600,000 students. The district already enforces mask guidelines for everyone, tests students and faculty weekly, and teachers and staff have already been required to be vaccinated. Additionally, ventilation systems in the classrooms have been upgraded to curb transmission of COVID.
Students who don’t want to be vaccinated but are still eligible can instead participate in the Independent Study Program. Currently, about 15,000 students are registered for the virtual learning program.