In a policy shift, the Los Angeles Unified School District announced Thursday it will require all students and district employees returning to in-person activities for the upcoming academic year to undergo "baseline and ongoing weekly COVID-testing," regardless of vaccination status.
The district had previously required such testing only for those who are unvaccinated.
"This is in accordance with the most recent guidance from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health," LAUSD Interim Superintendent Megan K. Reilly wrote in a message to the district community. "Baseline testing begins on Monday, August 2."
Details on the testing program are available online.
The policy change comes amid rising COVID-19 cases in Los Angeles County and beyond, with the surge largely blamed on a highly infectious Delta variant of the virus. Although health officials have insisted that current vaccines provide strong protection against COVID and the Delta variant, they do not completely prevent vaccinated people from becoming infected. They do largely prevent vaccinated people from becoming severely ill or dying.
In her message, Reilly said the district is "closely monitoring evolving health conditions and adapting our response in preparation for our full return to in-person learning on August 16."
"Los Angeles Unified continues to collaborate with our health partners at the county and state levels, as well as our panel of medical experts and university partners and we review updates to county, state, and federal guidance on a daily basis," she wrote.
"We believe Los Angeles Unified has the highest COVID safety standards of any public school district in the nation. 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."
She stressed in the message that "ultimately, the greatest protection against COVID and the Delta variant is vaccination."