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Superintendent Austin Beutner Seeks State and County Authorization To Operate School-Based Vaccination Program (01-18-21)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                          January 18, 2021
Contact: Shannon Haber, 213-393-1289

Superintendent Austin Beutner Seeks State and County Authorization To Operate School-Based Vaccination Program

  • Program would provide COVID-19 vaccinations to school staff and the community at large 
  • Vaccination of school staff will help speed the reopening of schools 
  • Los Angeles Unified has conveniently located facilities, trained staff and clinicians to support a vaccination effort 
  • School-based vaccinations will help provide access to communities which lack access to healthcare services

LOS ANGELES (January 18, 2021) – Superintendent Austin Beutner today asked State and Los Angeles County health officials for immediate authorization for Los Angeles Unified to provide COVID vaccinations at schools to help bring an end to the pandemic and speed the safe reopening of school classrooms. 

In a letter to California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly and County Department of Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer, Superintendent Beutner outlines how Los Angeles Unified could provide vaccines to school staff and the community at large, including students, once a vaccine has been approved for children. 

“There’s a unique and important benefit to having Los Angeles Unified as a vaccination partner – doing so will help reopen schools as soon as possible, and in the safest way possible,” he wrote. “This will not only protect the health and safety of our essential employees but will provide enormous benefit to children and their families, leading to a faster reopening of schools and of the economy more broadly by enabling the working families we serve to go back to work.” 

He noted that schools which are part of Los Angeles Unified are uniquely situated – and uniquely qualified – to help in the vaccination effort: 

  • The District’s 1,413 schools are conveniently located near where people live, helping make vaccines accessible to people in all communities. 
  • Los Angeles Unified has proven its ability to meet the needs of the community on a dramatic scale, operating 63 food distribution centers at schools which have provided 96 million meals along with 18 million items of much-needed supplies; distributing computers and internet access to 500,000 students; and operating 42 COVID testing centers at schools that have administered more than 350,000 tests to staff members, students and their families – the largest school-based program in the nation. 
  • Schools have the necessary infrastructure already in place – security, electricity, restrooms and both covered and open areas – to support the vaccination process. 
  • Los Angeles Unified has school-based health clinics in high-needs areas which are already licensed to provide vaccinations. These sites can immediately provide COVID-19 vaccinations while more locations at additional schools become qualified under state guidelines. 
  • Los Angeles Unified employs more than 450 registered nurses and 120 licensed vocational nurses, all of whom can administer the vaccine and can attend to those who may have an adverse reaction to the vaccine. In addition, Anthem Blue Cross and Health Net, partners in Los Angeles Unified’s COVID testing program, have both committed to provide additional clinicians to support a school-based vaccination effort. 
  • Los Angeles Unified has a technology and data system built with support of Microsoft which can register individuals, schedule vaccination appointments and share the data with appropriate authorities. 
  • Access to healthcare services is a real barrier for many people in low-income communities. More than 80% of the families served by Los Angeles Unified live in poverty and 83% are Black and Latino residents, which have been the demographics most impacted by the virus. It’s critical that the vaccine be made available to these families. In a typical community we serve, there are about three drugstores, two fire stations and 25 schools. No organization has the infrastructure to provide easier access to vaccinations than schools. 

“Few organizations in the Los Angeles area have this deep and proven set of capabilities and few are as trusted by the community,” Superintendent Beutner said. “Families trust schools to keep their children safe and that trust extends to the entire family. A trusted partner providing the vaccination at a trusted location will increase the chances of a successful and more speedy vaccination effort.”