LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – The superintendent for the Los Angeles Unified School District Monday called on state health officials to give the green light for the district to begin vaccinating its teachers and staff against COVID-19.
In a briefing Monday, LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner said that he had sent a request to both the California Health and Human Services Agency, as well as the L.A. County Department of Public Health, requesting that they give immediate authorization to LAUSD to begin providing vaccinations to "our school staff, to the community at large, and ultimately, including students once a vaccine has been approved for children."
Beutner argued that vaccinating LAUSD staff will help speed up the timeline for reopening schools. All LAUSD campuses have been closed since last March, with all closes being conducted online.
LAUSD is the second largest school district in the nation, with over 600,000 students and 75,000 staff.
Beutner argued Monday that district has the infrastructure to implement a large-scale vaccination effort. He said the school has 450 registered nurses and 120 vocational nurses on staff to administer the vaccine. It also has 12 health clinics "in high-needs areas that are licensed to provide vaccinations," Beutner said.
He added that LAUSD has been providing meals, supplies and technology services to a half-million students during the pandemic. It has also administered more than 350,000 coronavirus tests.
"There's a unique and important benefit to LAUSD being a vaccination partner," Beutner said. "Doing so will help reopen schools as soon as possible, and in the safest way possible. Online learning for many students pales in comparison to learning in a classroom and we must find the safest path to provide in-person instruction. A critical part of reopening school classrooms will be creating a safe school environment, including providing vaccinations to people who work in schools."
There has been significant confusion over who is eligible to receive the coronavirus vaccine. Although California health officials have given permission for anyone 65 years of age or older to receive the vaccine, L.A. County is still only in Phase 1A of the vaccine distribution plan, which includes healthcare workers and residents of long-term care facilities, such as nursing homes. The L.A. County Public Health Department said it is still working to finish vaccinating about half-a-million healthcare workers before it can move on to Phase 1B, which includes those over age 65, as well as teachers, food and agriculture workers and emergency services workers.
The city of Long Beach, which has its own health department, said that teachers in the Long Beach Unified School District will begin receiving the vaccine the week of Jan. 25.
Gov. Gavin Newsom reported Friday that 1.18 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been distributed so far statewide. It's unclear how many of those have been administered.
Five new large-scale vaccination sites will open in Los Angeles County this week. The new sites open on the heels of L.A. County's first massive vaccination site, which opened at Dodger Stadium Friday morning.
for more features.