Nation’s Biggest School Districts Wrestle with Delta Variant Risks

Los Angeles Unified School District, the country’s second-largest, said that it will require all faculty and students to be tested for COVID-19 despite vaccination status before returning to school for the fall.

LAUSD Interim Superintendent Megan Reilly said that the district is working to comply with new health guidance.

“All students and employees, both vaccinated and unvaccinated, returning to in-person instruction must participate in baseline and ongoing weekly COVID testing,” Reilly said in a statement.

LAUSD previously required testing only for those who are unvaccinated.

The changes come as the highly contagious Delta variant of the virus is taking hold across the U.S. The variant now accounts for more than 80% of new infections.

Due to the quick spread of the Delta variant, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that people should resume wearing masks indoors.

Los Angeles County has recently emerged as a hotspot for the Delta variant and has reinstated masking in public outdoor spaces for both unvaccinated and vaccinated individuals.

Delta variant blamed

Reilly said that LAUSD is working to do what is best for its students.

“We are closely monitoring evolving health conditions and adapting our response in preparation for our full return to in-person learning on Aug. 16,” she explained in a letter to district families.

Baseline testing for students returning in-person to LAUSD campuses this fall begins on Aug. 2. Families have the option to choose distance learning and no COVID-19 testing or return to in-class learning.

The LAUSD will reopen for instruction on Aug. 16.

According to Interim Superintendent Reilly, safety measures to be used at LAUSD will include physical distancing, masking for all students, staff, and visitors, upgraded air filtration systems, collaboration with agencies and health partners, continuing sanitizing measures, and working with health agencies to help students and faculty receive COVID-19 vaccinations and information.

The district rolled out a campaign to vaccinate 12-to-15-year-old students in May to vaccinate more students before the start of the new school year.

According to a statement by LAUSD, “Ultimately, the greatest protection against COVID and the Delta variant is vaccination. We encourage everyone eligible to be vaccinated.”

Other school districts are beginning to follow suit. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the city’s teachers would be required to be vaccinated when school reopens in September.

New York City, like Los Angeles, is wrestling with rapidly rising infections due to the Delta variant and stalling vaccination rates. Teachers and students have a limited period before school begins to get vaccinated.

For NYC schools, the first entirely in-person day is Sept. 13.