SMMUSD Ponders Vaccine Mandate for Eligible Students
District also planning for ‘modified in-school quarantine’ option
October 21, 2021
By Jack Simon, Observer Staff Writer
The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District is on the verge of mandating vaccines for all eligible students.
The local School Board will discuss a COVID-19 vaccination requirement for all students, ages 12 and older, its upcoming October 21 meeting, district officials said.
SMMUSD Supt. Ben Drati said the board will consider the vaccine mandate if light of the recent announcement by Governor Gavin Newsom, issuing a vaccination requirement for students to remain in the classroom during this pandemic.
“We are reviewing the mandate with our guiding health agencies and the California Department of Education and will keep the public informed as we learn more about it.,” Drati said in letter to parents, released yesterday. “I support and appreciate the Governor’s mandate.”
Drati also noted that all SMMUSD staff had been vaccinated by the mandated October 1 deadline.
If the SMMUSD Board votes for the vaccine requirement, it will join others school district in the Westside that issued such mandate, including Culver City and Los Angeles Unified School District.
Last month, the LAUSD Board voted to require all eligible students 12 years of age and older to receive their first Covid-19 vaccine doses by no later than November 21, and to be fully vaccinated by December 19.
The mandate applies to all vaccine-eligible students who are attending school in-person and allows those with "qualified and approved exemptions" to opt out, though the conditions weren't specified.
In the letter to parents, Drati also said that the local district is planning the implementation of a modified in-school quarantine option, which would allow unvaccinated students who are exposed to Covid-19 to continue in-person instruction in the same classroom if they are asymptomatic.
“We have selected sixth grade as our initial phase to roll out our plan,” he said, explaining that. that a majority of sixth graders are not yet eligible for vaccines and they have been subjected to classroom quarantines more frequently compared to their seventh and eighth graders.
The superintendent said the district has formed two teams of three health care workers who will mobilize as needed to any middle school to support contract tracing and implementation of the quarantine.
“As part of the modified in-school quarantine, we will simultaneously implement a shortened at-home quarantine for all grades, from the current 10 days to seven days,” he said. “A reminder that vaccinated and asymptomatic children and adults are not subject to quarantine due to exposure.”