PAUSD will not follow Los Angeles school district vaccine mandate

The Los Angeles Unified School District mandated COVID-19 vaccinations for students aged 12 and older on Sept. 9, setting a precedent for the rest of the country. But unless ordered by the state, PAUSD will not follow suit.

Superintendent Don Austin said the Board of Education has given him authority to make the decision, but it will not be discussed in a board meeting.

The 10th Amendment dictates that decisions made around public schools’ health policies are delegated to the state. In this specific case, California has given individual districts jurisdiction over vaccine mandates.

However, Austin said the precedent Los Angeles has set may not be applicable to every district in California.

“It’s a massive urban school district and not a place that we look to for best practices because the districts are just so different,” Austin said.

According to Austin, LAUSD has experienced significantly more COVID-19 cases than PAUSD, making a vaccine mandate less urgent.

“We’ve had extraordinarily low numbers of cases and little to no spread,” Austin said. “We’ve been open longer with more students than any school in our entire region, so I’m very happy with where we’re at right now.”

Austin said he is willing to abide by federal or state orders if they mandated vaccinations for school districts but is not comfortable with administering that mandate himself.

“I’m not a medical doctor, and if the state mandates it, then that’s fine,” Austin said. “I have no problem with the district complying with a state mandate, but I think it’s inappropriate for me to tell somebody what they need to put in their body.”