(Trends Wide) — The board of directors of California’s second-largest school district unanimously approved a mandate Tuesday for all eligible students and staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by the end of December.
The measure applies to students over 16 and employees of the San Diego Unified School District and says they must be fully vaccinated by December 20.
Students who are not vaccinated by the deadline will not be able to attend face-to-face classes and must enroll in independent study programs. Unvaccinated students will also be prohibited from participating in extracurricular activities, according to the board.
Students and staff will be exempt from the new policy based on certain medical exemptions, according to the school board.
The vote comes after the Los Angeles Unified School Board voted earlier this month that all of its eligible students age 12 and older must be fully immunized by Dec. 19.
The increase in COVID-19 cases caused by the highly transmissible delta variant has led to an increase in hospitalizations among children, many of whom still do not meet the requirements to be vaccinated. Nearly 27% of all Covid-19 cases reported nationwide in the week ending Sept. 23 were in children, according to data released Monday by the American Academy of Pediatrics. And an average of 260 children were hospitalized with COVID-19 daily in the past seven days, according to data Tuesday from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Less than half of American teens are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to a Trends Wide analysis of CDC data.
Despite the worrying rate of covid-19 cases among minors, vaccination and mask-wearing mandates in schools have been polarizing issues that have triggered ongoing legal battles.
In San Diego, school board members stressed that they will take a phased approach in implementing the vaccination mandate for students, based on their age group and pending full approval from the US Food and Drug Administration. USA (FDA). Until then, mandatory testing will be required of all unvaccinated students, the board said.
About 65% of all students and 80% of eligible district employees are already vaccinated, at least partially, the district said in a statement. The district is made up of more than 121,000 students and has 13,559 employees, according to its website.
“The [distrito] San Diego Unified works to ensure the highest quality instruction in the safest environment possible for all students and employees, “the district reported in a statement.” Strong scientific evidence shows that vaccines are an essential part of the protection of our communities “.