Will Districts Mandate Shots for Students?

Over the last few months, teachers have been the focus of vaccine mandates.

President Biden last week called on states to require vaccines for school staff, and he mandated vaccines for federal educators. Nine states, Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C., already have vaccine mandates in place.

But other states and districts do not seem to be rushing to adopt mandates. A survey of 100 large urban districts found that just one quarter require teacher vaccinations. Schools have other mitigation policies in place: 89 are requiring students to wear masks, according to the survey, conducted by the Center on Reinventing Public Education at the University of Washington. And 94 offer a remote option to families not ready for an in-person return to school.

Now, there are signs that more pressure may be put on students to get vaccines.

Last week, Los Angeles, the nation’s second-largest district, announced that it would mandate vaccinations for students 12 and older who are attending class in person, in addition to requiring teachers and staff members to be vaccinated.

The Board of Education’s decision, which will eventually apply to more than 460,000 students, may face legal challenges.

For now, Los Angeles is the only large school district to mandate vaccines for students. New York City, the nation’s largest district, and Chicago, the third largest, are not mandating vaccines for students — at least not yet.

Remote learning may help explain L.A.’s decision. Districts need to be able to accommodate families that refuse vaccinations. Los Angeles offers online independent study for those who opt out of in-person learning this year.

New York and Chicago are offering limited online schooling only to students with medical issues.

Still, as New York’s students streamed back into classrooms on Monday, education experts were optimistic. Citywide, 71 percent of people 12 and older are fully vaccinated, although rates vary by neighborhood. The city requires vaccines for all adults who work in school buildings, and has a universal mask mandate in schools.

“I just want everybody to find their happy again,” Simone Shenloogian, a kindergarten teacher in the Bronx, told The Times. “I think we’ll be creating a new normal together.”



  • Connecticut schools will be required to teach Native American studies, with an emphasis on local nations, after Indigenous activists pressed for a new law, The Associated Press reports.

  • Pedro Martinez, the current head of the San Antonio Independent School District, will be the next chief executive of Chicago Public Schools, Chalkbeat Chicago reports.

  • Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, a Republican with an eye toward national office, is ending most year-end state assessments, the Tampa Bay Times reports. He said the state should replace them with shorter “progress monitoring” tests, which are tailored to individual students.

  • From Opinion: “You could come home and there’s not a home,” Sarah DeBacher, a mother in New Orleans said, describing parenting in an era of climate disaster.

  • Another good read: Facebook has played down its own research showing that Instagram can be harmful for teenage girls’ mental health, The Wall Street Journal reports.


As we barrel toward the last official weekend of summer, families across the country will be heading for a swim. (Bring sunscreen!)

Dr. Perri Klass has long written about ways to splash safely and prevent drowning. It’s the leading preventable cause of death in children ages 1 to 4, and then again in adolescents, especially boys, where it’s the second-most-common cause of preventable deaths for ages 15 to 19, after car accidents.

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