The Los Angeles Unified School District, the second-largest in the country, has pushed back a deadline for its students to get fully vaccinated against the coronavirus until fall 2022 after roughly 30,000 students failed to get shots.
The school board voted Tuesday to extend the Jan. 10 deadline to avoid an influx of unvaccinated students who now attend schools having to enroll in the district’s online program.
Nearly 87% of the district’s students aged 12 and older have already shown proof of vaccination or have received an exemption. But because 13% remain unvaccinated, the district would have had to shift teachers to online instruction, draining resources from in-person classes, school board member Jackie Goldberg said in a statement following the vote.
“I felt like we were ending up with a situation in which those who complied would be the most negatively affected,” Goldberg said, according to the Los Angeles Times. “I think we have no choice.”
Some pro-vaccine parents called the decision a failure, and a Los Angeles Times editorial branded the district’s strategy a “game of chicken with vaccine-hesitant parents.”
“Letting parents shirk their responsibility to get their kids vaccinated will only end up punishing the kids and families who took responsible action,” one parent, whose wife is a teacher, said in a letter to the board, according to USA Today.
Goldberg insisted, however, that those opposed to vaccines did not win and that the district will continue to encourage vaccination.
“This pandemic is not over, and LAUSD may delay the eligible student vaccination deadline but will uphold the requirement,” Goldberg said in her statement.
California back in October became the first state to announce plans to require its students to be vaccinated against the coronavirus. LAUSD staff are also required to get the vaccination. Nearly 500 employees were fired last week for failing to comply.
Los Angeles public schools serve more than 600,000 students.
New York City, the nation’s largest school system, has required teachers and other staff members to get vaccinated since October.
New York does not currently require vaccines for students, but Mayor-elect Eric Adams has said he supports a student vaccine mandate.