Aug 3, 2022 - Health

LA school district drops strict COVID-19 protocols

Students are pictured at a Los Angeles school on July 29, 2022. Photo: Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

The Los Angeles Unified School District announced Tuesday that it's dropping many of its COVID-19 safety protocols, which were among the strictest in the country.

Why it matters: The nation's second largest school district is shifting its rules on testing, masking and vaccination, aligning with other school districts in the region and marking a shift in priorities just two weeks ahead of the new school year.

  • The school district is now "able to nimbly adjust to changing conditions" and align with Los Angeles County requirements, LA Unified said in a letter to families just before the Aug. 15 start day.
  • Most of the county’s 80 school systems appear to be following a similar model, the Los Angeles Times reported.

What's new: Previously, students and staff had to undergo weekly testing.

  • Now, weekly asymptomatic COVID-19 testing is no longer required.
  • Testing will only be required for those experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or those who have been in close contact with a person who has tested positive.
  • Per the recommendation of the California Department of Public Health, the school district is making rapid antigen tests the primary option for detecting COVID-19 in schools, rather than PCR tests. 
  • Symptomatic students and close contacts will be provided with an at-home rapid antigen test.
  • Students who become symptomatic or ill while at school are required to wear a mask while waiting to be picked up by a parent or guardian. The school will provide a rapid antigen test kit for the symptomatic student to take home.

For the record: The school district said its employees are already vaccinated but it encourages “all eligible students to be vaccinated as well.”

The big picture: Last week, LA County decided not to reinstate a universal indoor mask mandate as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations appeared to trend downward.

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