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    Los Angeles Unified School District set to vote on mandating Covid-19 vaccines for eligible students – CNN

    “We imagine by second semester, our middle school and high school campuses will be absolutely even safer than they are today,” LAUSD school board member Tanya Ortiz Franklin told CNN’s John Berman on Thursday morning.

    According to a report included with an online copy of Thursday’s agenda, all students who are 12 or older and are attending school in-person would be required to have received their first dose no later than November 21 and be fully vaccinated by December 19. Students participating in extracurricular activities in-person would need to be fully vaccinated by the end of October.

    The report says “students with qualified and approved exemptions and conditional admissions” would be excluded from the mandate, but it doesn’t provide additional detail about potential exemptions.

    LAUSD, which serves more than 600,000 students and began school on August 16, would be the first major school district in the United States to mandate Covid-19 vaccines for its eligible students. A smaller district in Los Angeles County, Culver City Unified School District, announced in August it planned to require eligible students to be vaccinated by mid-November.

    LAUSD estimates at least 150,000 doses will need to be administered if the requirement is approved, Franklin said, but Los Angeles County has the doses and the capability to undertake this effort.

    Students who decline to get the vaccine but don’t have an exemption can enroll in the district’s Independent Study Program, an online resource that already has about 15,000 students who have opted for that learning option for a variety of reasons, Franklin said.

    The district is “trying to do everything we possibly can to keep our schools safe,” Franklin said, including instituting mask wearing, testing and upgrading schools’ air filtration systems.

    “Cases are on the rise and children are at risk from the Delta variant in ways we didn’t see last semester,” she said, “and our responsibility to children and our communities is their safety and well-being.”

    The vaccine by Pfizer/BioNTech is the only one available in the US authorized for emergency use for children between 12 and 15, though the vaccine has received full approval by the US Food and Drug Administration for people 16 and older.

    But that’s not an issue for the LAUSD school board, Franklin told CNN, saying, “We understand the benefits far outweigh the risks, and so the emergency authorization really isn’t weighing into our decision.”

    “It is about the access,” she added, “and that we can provide it in this country to our children, and we want to do that as quickly as possible.”

    Board member Jackie Goldberg said the mandate was “to save lives,” CNN affiliate KCBS/KCAL reported.

    “That’s why there isn’t measles and mumps and rubella in our schools — because we vaccinate and we require it.”

    White House press secretary Jen Psaki praised the move Thursday, telling CNN, “Good for them.” But she also said it was important everyone around students were also inoculated to protect students under 12 who remain ineligible for vaccines.

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