Private School in Los Angeles Gives Teachers COVID Vaccine Despite County Restrictions

Teachers at the Wesley School, a private school located in Los Angeles, received the first dose of the coronavirus vaccine despite the guidelines of the county's health department.

"Many parents have expressed concern for the well-being of our teachers in these challenging times," the school said in an email sent to parents on Tuesday.

"Therefore, we wanted to share that through a special program for essential workers and educators, all Wesley employees who wanted to be vaccinated were able to take advantage of an offer last week and receive their first dose," the email continued.

The school's success in obtaining the vaccine for its teachers contradicted Los Angeles County's vaccine policy. The county is currently vaccinating only health care workers and those over the age of 65.

Barbara Ferrer, the Director of the Los Angeles County Health Department, said in a Tuesday briefing that it would be another two to three weeks before teachers would be eligible for the vaccine.

Los Angeles is currently experiencing a vaccine shortage and five of the area's COVID vaccine sites, including Dodger Stadium, temporarily closed as a result.

US-HEALTH-VIRUS-VACCINE-HOMELESSNESS Registered Nurse Emily Enos loads the
A nurse is shown above administering the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine in Los Angeles, California on February 10, 2021. Teachers at the Wesley School received the first dose of the coronavirus vaccine despite the guidelines of the county’s health department. Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images/Getty

However, some teachers at the Wesley School were able to be vaccinated through Northridge Hospital Medical Center.

The medical center told local California television station KCAL 9 that it had vaccinated "tens of thousands" of health care workers and seniors, but had a hundred doses to offer to both private and public schools in the area.

"We initially vaccinated our frontline health care workers and then moved to vaccinate those in the community 65 and older," the medical center told the television station. "Recently, we had vaccines available and reached out to schools and daycare centers in the Valley to offer vaccines to educators, targeting those 65 and older."

Julie Galles, Interim Head of The Wesley School told The Los Angeles Times that they were "grateful to be contacted" for the opportunity, allowing its teachers to be vaccinated.

"We firmly believe that vaccinating educators is critical to returning students to in-person learning," the school said. "We were, therefore, grateful to be contacted by a local hospital in January indicating that it was creating a list of teachers and other essential workers who wished to be vaccinated when the vaccine became available."

"When the hospital notified us that the vaccine was available, some of our teachers scheduled appointments and received the first dose of the vaccine," the school added. "We strongly urge health officials to prioritize vaccination for all educators."

Public school parents were upset that the private school teachers were able to obtain the vaccine before other teachers.

"Those vaccines could have gone to teachers living in our hardest-hit areas," Jenna Schwartz, a Los Angeles Unified School District parent, told KCAL 9. "They could have gone to the building and grounds workers that are currently on site. They could have gone to the staff at the procurement site that are handing out the food every day."

The public schools of Los Angeles Unified School District turned down the medical center's offer for the vaccines due to concerns that it went against the health department's guidelines.

The school district told KCAL 9 that, "the county confirmed that current vaccines are only available for health care workers and those over 65," and "The county is looking into the issue."

In a statement to The Los Angeles Times, the county's public health department said, "all sites should be vaccinating health care workers and people 65-plus and if they have a significant quantity of expiring doses, they should consult with the Department of Public Health, on how best to ensure no wastage."

Newsweek reached out to the Wesley School and the Los Angeles County Department of Health, but didn't hear back in time for publication.