In a move that marked a first across the nation, Culver City Unified School District started its 2021-22 school year with a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for all eligible students 12+. District spokesman Geoff Maleman told NPR that teachers were in strong support of the mandate.
“They were very concerned, particularly some staff members who are older or have comorbidities that might make them more susceptible to COVID, about going back to school in a room full of kids who weren’t vaccinated,” Maleman said. “It became a real safety concern for the teachers.”
While districts in several areas in places like Denver, Chicago, and Washington D.C. are requiring students to be vaccinated, it is believed that CCUSD is the first to mandate vaccines for its eligible students.
The district also plans to test staff and students weekly, and teachers are already mandated to be inoculated or undergo weekly COVID testing. The deadline to provide proof of vaccination is Nov. 19. For those who do not plan to follow the mandate, district officials are working on a plan to account for those students.
As expected, masks will be required at Culver City schools, but the requirement for outdoor masks was recently expanded to include middle school staff and students, as many of those students are not yet eligible for the vaccines. As long as cases remain low, those at the high school will not be required to wear masks outdoors. However, this policy is subject to change at any time based on COVID cases in the schools and the city.
“As we have all learned, we may need to change quickly to adapt to new information, and we appreciate your understanding as we monitor and respond quickly to the latest health guidance,” new superintendent Quac Tran said in the release announcing the vaccine mandate.
In an earlier memo, Tran noted that the policy of Los Angeles Unified School District is being considered, but CCUSD officials are not basing their decisions off theirs.
“We do hear comparisons to what LAUSD is doing but they are a whole different world than a district like ours,” Tran explained.