The Los Angeles Unified School District has announced that students will be required to show proof that they have received a vaccine for the novel coronavirus before returning to in-person learning, according to a report from Fox News. According to District Superintendent Austin Beutner, parents who have concerns about the safety of the vaccine will be required to keep their children in remote learning, presumably indefinitely.
Beutner’s comments, as first reported in the Los Angeles Times, caused concern in light of the fact that neither of the currently approved vaccines for the coronavirus have been tested for use in teenagers, much less small children. Additionally, school-aged children are likely to be the last in line to receive the vaccine, since children generally have far milder symptoms and are much less likely to experience serious complications from COVID-19 than adults.
However, Beutner told the Times that he did not mean to advocate that schools should remain closed until all students are vaccinated. Instead, he said, the state should set standards for reopening all schools and require schools to reopen once all directives have been achieved. In his view, once the vaccine has become available to children, the COVID-19 vaccination requirement would be no different from the mumps/measles requirement, which the district already has.
In spite of having perhaps the strictest lockdown measures in the country, and one of the nation’s most temperate climates, California has seen COVID-19 cases skyrocket, particularly of late. California public schools have lagged behind most of the rest of the country already in in-person learning, due largely to the influence of teachers’ unions.
In fact, California schools’ recalcitrance to open for in-person learning has been so acute that even Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, a strong (if hypocritical) proponent of lockdown measures has publicly urged schools in his state to reopen as quickly as possible and even provided financial incentives to help schools modify their facilities as needed to make them safer for operation during the pandemic. Predictably, however, school districts and teachers’ unions balked at the plan.