34K L.A. Students Haven't Complied with Vaccine Mandate, Could Be Forced to Learn Remotely

About 34,000 public school students have not complied with the Los Angeles Unified School District's COVID-19 vaccine mandate, according to a Tuesday report in the Los Angeles Times.

Students who have not received the first shot of the vaccine will not have time to be fully vaccinated by the district's January 10 deadline, and if they remain unvaccinated, they will have to take courses online or be forced to leave the Los Angeles public school system.

COVID-19, vaccine, children vaccinations
About 34,000 public school students in Los Angeles are projected to not meet the district's COVID-19 vaccine mandate. In this photo, a first grade student—seven-year-old Rihanna Chihuaque—receives a COVID-19 vaccine at Arturo Velasquez Institute on November 12, 2021 in Chicago. Getty Images/Scott Olson

In September, the Los Angeles Unified School District's Board of Education unanimously voted to implement a coronavirus vaccine mandate for students 12 and older who are attending class in person. In doing so, it became the first major school district in the U.S. to place such a mandate.

The district is the second-largest in the nation, and the mandate applies to more than 460,000 students over the age of 12.

The Los Angeles Times noted the difficulties the school system would face if it does not extend the mandate deadline and moved a large number of unvaccinated students into online learning. The district's online curriculum is under its independent study program known as City of Angels, which has already experienced staffing shortages since the beginning of the current school year.

About 10,000 students were assigned to the City of Angels at the beginning of the school year, according to the Times, and that number increased to 16,000 before the end of the first semester. Now as the second semester starts on January 10, putting as many as 34,000 students into the program may prove overwhelming.

The school system in Los Angeles also has an employee vaccine mandate, which already went into effect. Employees, unlike students, could request an exemption to the mandate based on personal beliefs, but few did. In October, it was reported that 99 percent of the teachers in the district met the vaccine mandate requirements.

Currently, almost 85 percent of district students have made the mandate requirements. That number is an increase from 80 percent recorded on November 22, and in recent weeks the district has increased public-awareness efforts and made vaccines widely available at schools.

However, the 85 percent compliance rate also includes students who have received at least one shot of the vaccine, and it's believed that many students will still need to get the second shot in order to meet the requirements.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is the only shot available to students aged 12 and older, and the second shot of the vaccine can not be given until at least three weeks after the first one is administrated. A five-week time frame is needed for maximum immunity since that level is said to be reached at around two weeks after the second shot.

Students who are 18 or older can take the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Newsweek contacted the Los Angeles Unified School District for comment but did not hear back in time for publication.