The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) announced this week it will require weekly tests for COVID-19 when students, teachers, and employees return to school in mid-August.
Those tests will be administered to both vaccinated and unvaccinated people, according to a statement posted on the website. Mask-wearing will also be mandated for students, teachers, and other staff.
“Our preparations for the start of the new school year include continuing to require masking for all students, staff, and visitors; maximizing physical distancing as much as possible; continuing comprehensive sanitizing efforts, including frequent hand washing; upgraded air filtration systems; regular, ongoing COVID testing and community engagement; and collaborating with health partners and agencies to support free COVID vaccination,” LAUSD said on Thursday.
All vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals who return for in-person classes are required to take part in COVID-19 testing once per week, the school system added.
The reason why, officials said, is because of guidance handed down by the County Department of Public Health.
“Ultimately, the greatest protection against COVID and the Delta variant is vaccination. We encourage everyone who is eligible to be vaccinated,” the statement said, without elaborating on why vaccinated people should be subject to routine COVID-19 testing.
The mandate comes as President Joe Biden on Thursday urged local governments to pay people to get vaccinated against COVID-19, and set new rules requiring federal workers to provide proof of vaccination or face regular testing, mask mandates, and travel restrictions.
The president also suggested that schools should be reopened in the fall.
“We can and we must open schools this fall, full time,” Biden said on Thursday. “We can’t afford another year out of the classroom.”
However, earlier in the day, White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre suggested that if U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other experts recommended lockdowns or school closures, the administration would follow their guidelines.
“Well, we listen to, like I said, we listen to the CDC and the expert[s] and their guidance … you know, the CDC is a body that is very well respected,” she said in response to a reporter’s question on Thursday. “And again, we follow their guidance.”
Biden’s decision to require millions of federal workers and contractors to show proof of vaccination is a departure from a previous opposition to vaccine passports. Passport-style systems have been flagged by civil liberties groups and conservatives as a potential violation of individual liberty and privacy rights.
Government employees who do not show they have been vaccinated will be subject to weekly or twice-weekly COVID-19 tests and restrictions on official travel. U.S. Postal Service employees won’t be subject to the new rules.
Biden also directed the Defense Department to look into “how and when” it will require members of the military to take the vaccine.
Reuters contributed to this report.