Los Angeles schools to push back vax deadline for nine months

AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes

California recently saw one of the harshest vaccine mandates in the nation being imposed on the Los Angeles Unified School District, the second-largest school district in the country after New York City. Now, with the various deadlines either approaching or already passed, the hammer appeared to be ready to fall. They anticipated significant numbers of teachers and other workers to be terminated from their jobs and flocks of students being sent back to remote learning from home. And according to the Washington Post on Friday, the shift was already beginning. The LAUSD school board voted to terminate hundreds of employees who remained unvaccinated and parents were being warned to prepare for their children to be sent back home to learn. But as we’ll see in a moment, something seemed to change at the 11th hour.

The second-largest school district in the United States is facing mounting woes over its coronavirus vaccine mandate, recently terminating hundreds of employees who refused to comply and vowing to put thousands of unvaccinated students into online classes.

Board members of Los Angeles Unified School District — which has one of the strictest vaccine mandates in the nation — voted Tuesday to terminate 496 employees who failed to get vaccinated ahead of the deadline.

So it looked like the plan was underway. An initial round of nearly 500 workers were supposed to receive their walking papers and unvaccinated students wouldn’t be allowed on campus. But later the same day, the LA Times said that the board was “backing down” and the ban was going on the shelf for almost another year. So what changed?

The Los Angeles school district is poised to push back enforcement of its Jan. 10 student COVID-19 vaccine mandate, confronted with more than 30,000 students 12 and older who are not fully vaccinated and would otherwise be barred from campus.

Under a proposal from interim Supt. Megan Reilly, enforcement of the January deadline would be suspended until fall of 2022, the start of the next school year.

While the mandate has probably resulted in thousands of students being inoculated — making campuses more protected from outbreaks — the district also was faced with the reality of tens of thousands student being unable to attend class in person under the rules of what may be the strictest student vaccine mandate in the nation.

One reason for the rush was that children ages 12-17 require a five-week cycle to become fully vaccinated, and those who hadn’t begun by now couldn’t complete it by January 10th. Also, the district’s remote learning program (called City of Angels) hasn’t been able to keep up with the needs of the much smaller number of students whose parents are still keeping them at home. Being hit with morethan 30,000 more in a period of a few weeks would have imploded the system entirely.

The decision to delay enforcement of the mandate until next autumn isn’t official yet because the board will have to vote on the question during their next meeting on Tuesday. But LAUSD Superintendent Megan Reilly sent out a note suggesting that this is already a done deal. Every family in the district should have questions about these developments that demand answers.

First of all, why the delay if they were so positive that the vax mandate was such a great idea and the only “safe” way to proceed? Reilly appears to give us a hint as to the real answer in her memo, where she applauds the fact that there had been a rush of recent vaccinations and the district had reached 86.5% of students in compliance. That means they’ve either had at least one shot or received an exemption by request or through “extenuating circumstances.” They would never admit it, but it sounds an awful lot to me like that crushing mandate was a bluff intended to blackmail more teachers and students to get vaccinated. They didn’t reach the goal of 90%, but they’re still putting the gun back in the holster. I’m not sure how else we’re supposed to interpret this.

The other outstanding question concerns what happens next. The board just voted to terminate almost 500 unvaccinated workers. Will those people still be losing their jobs or will they now be allowed to remain? I’m sure most of them would be thrilled to learn they aren’t getting the boot right before Christmas, but I’m willing to bet that you have 500 families who are none too happy that your stunt put them through the stress of believing they were about to be going on unemployment.

And finally, how in the world would a school district set a target date of reinstating the mandate that’s more than eight months away? Nobody has any idea what the pandemic will look like at that point. There might be five new variants running around that are far more deadly than Omnicron (which has still yet to kill a single person anywhere in the world) or we might have caseloads so low that nobody will tolerate any more government mandate nonsense. But Los Angeles is just going to preemptively announce that they will be punishing the unvaccinated anyway?

If the people of Los Angeles County are really willing to tolerate all of this and not rush to elect a new batch of actual parents to the school board to reverse this garbage, then we should have no sympathy for them. They should probably dump the Mayor and the Governor while they’re at it. But if that can’t happen, then the sane people should consider following the large number of other former Californians who have packed their bags and headed out for more sensible parts of the country. Flee California while you can and leave it in the hands of the loons and the criminals. They deserve each other.