After Los Angeles County reimposed the wearing of face masks, even for the vaccinated, the school district in California’s most populous county has gone a step further, mandating weekly tests for all returning students and staff.
Covid-19 testing for everyone, regardless of vaccination status, will start on August 2, “in accordance with the most recent guidance” from the LA County Department of Public Health,” the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) announced on Thursday.
LAUSD is “closely monitoring evolving health conditions and adapting our response in preparation for our full return to in-person learning on August 16,” wrote interim superintendent Megan K. Reilly.
Previously, the LAUSD required Covid-19 tests only for people who have not yet received a vaccine.
“We believe Los Angeles Unified has the highest [Covid] safety standards of any public school district in the nation. Our preparations for the start of the new school year include continuing to require masking for all students, staff, and visitors; maximizing physical distancing as much as possible; continuing comprehensive sanitizing efforts, including frequent hand washing; upgraded air filtration systems; regular, ongoing [Covid] testing and community engagement; and collaborating with health partners and agencies to support free [Covid] vaccination,” Reilly added.
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The policy change comes after the county brought back the mask mandate in mid-July, even for the fully vaccinated residents, citing the rise in coronavirus cases attributed to the Delta variant. LA County Sheriff has said his department would not enforce the order, however.
Many companies, universities and corporations across the US have tried to compel students and employees to get vaccinated by saying those that do not will be subjected to weekly testing and mask requirements. LAUSD may be the first in the nation to mandate testing and masks regardless.
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Meanwhile, the Biden administration has pushed for vaccination mandates at federal agencies, while reimposing masking orders on vaccinated Americans – after rescinding them in May – based on the controversial assessment by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that vaccines do not completely prevent the Delta variant of the virus from spreading.
LAUSD maintained that vaccination is “ultimately, the greatest protection” against all variants of Covid-19. It was unclear how having to submit to mandatory testing and masking would do anything to incentivize students and staff to vaccinate.
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