Oakland Unified pushes back vaccine mandate to the fall semester

Students wear masks and sit one to a two-person desk in order to social distance during summer classes at Laurel Elementary in Oakland on June 11, 2021. Photo by Anne Wernikoff, CalMatters

Oakland Unified will not enforce its student vaccine mandate until the fall semester, when the state’s student vaccine mandate is expected to go into effect.

The district was among others, including West Contra Costa Unified and Los Angeles Unified, that adopted stricter vaccine mandate timelines than the state’s, only to push them back due to a low rate of verification. In December, around 40% of eligible Oakland Unified students still hadn’t verified their vaccine status, so the district pushed the deadline back from Jan. 1 to Jan. 31.

School board members on Wednesday night voted to push back the deadline to Aug. 1, Oakland Unified spokesman John Sasaki said.

As of Jan. 19, only about 70% of students 12 and older had verified their vaccination status, according to the resolution. The vaccination status of more than 3,100 eligible Oakland Unified students remains unknown to the district, the resolution said.

The state’s vaccine mandate will follow the federal Food and Drug Administration’s full approval of the Covid vaccine for each age group and is expected to go into effect in July 2022.

Currently, only the Pfizer vaccine is fully approved for people 16 and older. The Pfizer vaccine also has been granted emergency authorization for use in children aged 12-16.

Los Angeles Unified’s school board voted in December to give students 12 and older until fall 2022 to receive both doses of the Covid-19 vaccine, scrapping their original deadline of Jan. 10.

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