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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 12/29/21

School District Takes A Step Backward On COVID

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"COVID 19-vaccines are effective and can reduce the risk of getting and spreading the virus that causes COVID-19." - CDC

Jackie Goldberg lectures anti-vax activists before caving into their demands
Jackie Goldberg lectures anti-vax activists before caving into their demands
(Image by LAUSD)
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Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Los Angeles schools have set the example for safeguarding the welfare of children. The tone was set early on with the Grab and Go program that ensured the 405,000 students who qualify for free and reduced-price lunch had access to food even as campuses were closed. A testing program was then established so that outbreaks could be caught early when campuses reopened. When vaccines were fully approved, the LAUSD became the largest school district to mandate vaccines for adults on school campuses. This was followed by an expansion of the requirement to students over the age of 12.

With 86.52% of students aged 12 and older already having received the COVID-19 vaccine that was required to attend school in person at the start of the spring semester, it was clear that the board had chosen the correct path. An attempt by anti-vax parents to block implementation with a restraining order looked to be doomed when a judge hearing the case said on December 8, 2021, that "he is inclined to deny [the] request." Contrary to the repeated refrain from those opposing mandates that they are illegal and unconstitutional, the judge ruled that the "LAUSD has a constitutional mandate to provide a safe and peaceful campus for its student and staff."

Despite this positive ruling, the District caved and announced two days later that, subject to board approval, it would delay "the transfer of non-compliant students 12 and older to the online independent study program until the beginning of the Fall 2022 semester." Before the board voted on this proposal, I provided public comment about the importance of keeping the mandate in place:

I am speaking with you today not only as a parent of two students who are in the district in special education programs, but also as the husband of a wife who has MS, which is a chronic disease and puts her in a high-risk category. This means that our family not only had to deal with all the other problems of COVID as we dealt with this pandemic, but we also lived in real fear that she could get this virus and it could result in her death. So we were grateful for what the district did at the beginning of the shutdown.

As the schools opened up we hesitated to put our girls back on campus knowing that they could go to school and come back and bring the virus to my wife. It was only after vaccinations were available, and also knowing what the school's protocols were that we felt safe sending them.

Putting in this vaccine mandate gives an additional layer of protection because as we know the vaccine is not 100% foolproof. They can still get the virus and they can still bring it home. We are asking, we are begging you, to not discriminate against families like us and keep this mandate in place in the way that you intended it.

I understand that there are difficulties in getting the 15% of students who have not been vaccinated into the online program, but last March we dealt with much worse. We had all of the students out of school and we managed in a couple of weeks to find a way to put them online. We have to do that again.

The district says that 86.5% of the students aged 12 and over are vaccinated. Those parents have done the right thing. Those students deserve to be protected further by not having unvaccinated students in their class.

We already require vaccinations for:

  • Chickenpox
  • Polio
  • Diptheria
  • Tetanus
  • Measles
  • Mumps
  • Rubella
  • Hepatitis C

Why should this be any different, other than COVID has been politicized in a way that it never should have been?

Continuing this vaccine mandate will also protect the students whose parents have given into anti-vax hysteria and not vaccinated their children.

We need to do the right thing. We need to stay the course and keep the mandate in place. We also need to expand it so that charter schools authorized by the district are subject to the same exact rules as students in the LAUSD.

Unfortunately, the LAUSD Board disregarded the needs of families like mine and voted unanimously to delay the implementation of the mandate until next fall. Board District 1's Dr. McKenna expressed a desire to vote against the delay but did not want to vote against the expansion of the mandate to charter schools authorized by the LAUSD. He was, therefore, was recorded as a "yes" vote. Board Member Scott Schmerelson recused himself from the original vote because he owned stock in Pfizer, but did vote to delay the mandate.

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Carl Petersen is a parent, an advocate for students with special education needs, an elected member of the Northridge East Neighborhood Council, a member of the LAUSD's CAC, and was a Green Party candidate in LAUSD's District 2 School Board race. During the campaign, the Network for Public Education (NPE) Action endorsed him, and Dr. Diane Ravitch called him a " (more...)

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