The Los Angeles Unified School District announced on Thursday that it would require all students and employees returning for in-person instruction to participate in weekly coronavirus testing.
The decision is a shift in policy for the school district, which is the second largest in the United States. The largest, in New York City, recently announced that all teachers and schools staff must be vaccinated before classes resume on Sept. 13 or be subjected to weekly testing.
Previously, the Los Angeles school district only required testing for students and staff members who were unvaccinated. Officials said that the new requirement was in accordance with the most recent guidance from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. It comes as the average number of cases in Los Angeles County has grown 119 percent from two weeks ago, according to a New York Times database.
The spread of the more contagious Delta variant has left many parents worried about what will happen when students return to class in the fall. “We believe Los Angeles Unified has the highest Covid safety standards of any public school district in the nation,” the interim superintendent, Megan K. Reilly, wrote in an email to the parents.
She urged that every eligible individual be vaccinated, calling it “the greatest protection against Covid and the Delta variant.”
Testing at Los Angeles schools will begin Aug. 2 in preparation for a return to full in-person learning on Aug. 16.
“The evidence is mounting that vaccinated individuals can be part of transmission chains,” said Dr. Anne W. Rimoin, a professor of epidemiology at the Fielding School of Public Health at the University of California, Los Angeles. “Any testing regimen that does not include vaccinated individuals is going to be incomplete and leave people at risk.”