News/Op-Ed: A Step Too Far? LAUSD Leading The Charge To Mandate COVID-19 Vaccination

by Andrew Fierro, Managing Editor

On September 9th, the Los Angles Unified School District (LAUSD) elected to mandate the COVID-19 vaccine, which has led to an outcry of both support and opposition.

Photo by Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times

The LAUSD is now the first major school system in the United States to mandate vaccination. This action has pushed the conversation forward and now puts pressure on other states and school districts to either do the same or come out against the decision.

The mandate gives students who are 12 and older, as well as enrolled in a school inside the district, up until January 10th to receive the vaccination fully. Though if the student wants to participate in extracurricular activities that are school-associated, the deadline for the mandate is October 31st.

The vaccination mandate has not only put pressure on the different school districts across the country, but also the education policymakers whose attention has just been grabbed. With this significant move, policymakers in support of the vaccine will look to further this decision and enforce it across the nation.

Many other school districts will most likely wait and watch carefully to understand the repercussions of such a mandate. However, the vaccination mandate has received support from major statewide teacher unions, as well as the entirety of school board members.

This was not the only Californian school district to enforce a vaccine mandate, as Culver City Unified, which is a small district adjacent to the LAUSD, already approved a mandate before the start of their school year.

Though there have been many supporters of the decision, there has also been opposition, as many families feel that they may leave the district over this mandate. Many families who were already hesitant about getting the vaccine are now feeling less confident and more defensive in the wake of this policy.

Despite vaccine hesitancy and backlash, vaccination rates are sure to rise in the Los Angeles area, though the policy may further alienate those in the state that are not so much vaccine hesitant as they are vaccine averse all together.

There are certain school districts inside California that do not agree with the vaccine mandate and will choose not to follow LAUSD lead. An example of this would be the Las Virgenes Unified School District (LVUSD). The LVUSD doesn’t believe that mandating the vaccination is in the best interest of everyone as of yet. Most of the opposing districts’ worries for the mandate stem from legal concerns.

The LAUSD is not as concerned with the legal issues that they may endure due to this vaccination mandate. However, how the legalities of this mandate are distinguished will be a popular discussion, as there have not been many cases similar to this.

Even with opposition, it seems that the LAUSD will not be the only school district in California that will continue down this path as several other districts have spoken out in support.

With the cases for COVID-19 continuing to linger, particularly cases found in unvaccinated 12 to 17-year-olds, this decision will prove to be significant in the discussion around keeping schools open for learning in the wake of the pandemic.

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