LA schools add fully-vaccinated to weekly Covid testing for all students, staff

In a move that promises to complicate in-person learning in the coming school year, the Los Angeles Unified School District announced on Thursday that all students and staff returning to in-person activities will be required to undergo “baseline and ongoing weekly COVID-testing.”

The announcement includes those who have already received the COVID-19 vaccination, KABC reported.

“This is in accordance with the most recent guidance from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health,” LAUSD Interim Superintendent Megan K. Reilly wrote in a message to the district, according to the local ABC affiliate. “Baseline testing begins on Monday, August 2.”

The district had previously required weekly testing for those who are unvaccinated.

In the message, Reilly said the district is “closely monitoring evolving health conditions and adapting our response in preparation for our full return to in-person learning on August 16.”

“Los Angeles Unified continues to collaborate with our health partners at the county and state levels, as well as our panel of medical experts and university partners and we review updates to county, state, and federal guidance on a daily basis,” she wrote.

The move comes on the heels of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announcing new mask recommendations on Tuesday in response to the delta variant surge. The CDC urged people who have been vaccinated to start wearing masks again in indoor public spaces in most areas of the country.

This includes schools, as CDC director Rochelle Walensky noted on Tuesday — the agency still recommends in-school learning. For now.

“In areas with substantial and high transmission, CDC recommends fully vaccinated people wear masks in public indoor settings to help prevent the spread of the Delta variant and protect others. This includes schools,” Walensky said. “CDC recommends that everyone in K-12 schools wear a mask indoors, including teachers, staff, students, and visitors, regardless of vaccination status. Children should return to full time in-person learning in the fall with proper prevention strategies in place.”

Los Angeles County Department of Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said “there is no consideration for closing schools.”

“People have been working all summer to implement the safest possible reopening for full in-person instruction in our schools,” Ferrer told KABC. “And that seems to me to be completely possible.”

The chilling push to get all Americans vaccinated in the face of the highly infectious delta variant of the virus went into overdrive on Thursday when President Joe Biden inched ever closer to a federal mandate — even as some of the incentives for getting vaccinated seem to be disappearing.

Not to worry though, Biden is encouraging state and local officials to use American Rescue Plan funding to offer residents $100 cash payments to get jabbed.

The president also said 2 million-plus federal employees and onsite contractors will be required to prove that they have been vaccinated. If they cannot, they will have to submit to weekly or twice weekly testing, wear masks on the job, and practice social distancing.

In addition, Biden directed the Defense Department to begin a process of mandating COVID-19 vaccinations for members of the military.

Tom Tillison

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