The Laguna Beach Unified School District’s Board of Education will hold a special meeting on Friday to consider requiring students to get tested for COVID-19.
Several school districts in Southern California have required COVID-19 testing for all students. The Los Angeles and Santa Ana unified school districts now require students get a negative COVID-19 test result every week to show up at campuses.
“Since August 19 there has been a request by members of the board to discuss mandating that all students be tested for COVID-19,” district staffers wrote in a report.
Last winter, Laguna Beach student-athletes in contact sports were required to be tested for COVID-19 weekly as a condition of participating. Laguna Beach Unified contracted Living Fit Nation to provide and support the administration of the tests at that time. Tests have also been offered to the entire school community on a voluntary basis.
Multiple details on a testing mandate still need to be ironed out by board members including the frequency of the testing, potential exemptions to testing (for example, teenagers who can show proof of vaccination), and how to continue educating students who refuse to be tested.
If the board votes to require COVID-19 testing for students, district administrators plan to ask board members for clarity on how to implement an independent study for those who don’t want to get swabbed.
On Aug. 10, the school board directed Supt. Jason Viloria to mandate that all employees be vaccinated or apply for a medical or religious exemption waiver by Oct. 15. Subsequently, the board directed staff to test all employees in the district for COVID-19 as soon as possible. All employees were tested by Sept. 1, according to a staff report.
“We would like to ensure that we can all remain in school with in-person instruction at school and decrease student absences,” said Sara Hopper, president of the Laguna Beach Unified Faculty Association. “Ironically, we currently have more Covid cases now than before we were all vaccinated.”
The Newport-Mesa Unified School District isn’t considering a testing requirement for students at this time, a district spokesperson said Thursday. The district has mandated testing for employees as required by state health guidelines.
The special meeting of the school board will be held via Zoom at 1:30 p.m. on Friday.