Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Austin Beutner announced that the district plans to open 25 school-based vaccination centers to serve school families in high-needs communities as part of an effort to reopen schools in the safest way possible.
“Since this crisis began, Los Angeles Unified has had to balance three sometimes conflicting objectives – the learning needs of students, the impact the virus is having on working families and protecting the health and safety of all in the school community,” Beutner said. “We’re expanding the safety net we are providing to include vaccinations as part of our commitment to do all we can to protect the health and safety of everyone in the school community.”
The expansion of this effort to 25 school sites from just two announced a week ago is made possible through a partnership with the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor and Northeast Community Clinics. All of the partners share a common goal to make sure families with children in schools receive access to vaccinations to help their children return to school in the safest way possible. Federal, state and county health authorities have agreed to ensure these school-based sites receive sufficient doses of the vaccine.
“We are excited to work with Los Angeles Unified and trusted community organizations to ensure the COVID-19 vaccine is accessible to all in our school communities and especially for those at highest risk,” Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO President Ron Herrera said. “Our efforts should be focused on equitable vaccine distribution and economic relief for struggling working families.”
The first two of these centers opened on Tuesday, April 6, at George Washington Preparatory Senior High School in South Los Angeles and Abraham Lincoln High School in East Los Angeles in collaboration with St. John’s Well Child and Family Center. St. John’s will provide the doses of vaccine and the clinical staff to administer the shots while Los Angeles Unified will oversee the outreach to the school community and provide operational support at the school sites.
On Friday, April 9, Los Angeles Unified will open a vaccination center with the help of Northeast Community Clinics at Henry T. Gage Middle School to serve school families in the Huntington Park community.
“We are grateful to Superintendent Beutner for his leadership in bringing forward vaccination centers which expand access to the COVID-19 vaccine to families in need,” Northeast Community Clinics Executive Director and CEO Dr. Christopher Lau said.
Soon thereafter, Los Angeles Unified will open a vaccine center at South East Senior High School in partnership with the Weingart Foundation and the John Wesley Community Health Institute Inc.
“We are extremely excited about this partnership,” Weingart Foundation President and CEO Miguel A. Santana said. “This school-based effort will localize access to vaccines in the South Gate community which has been disproportionately impacted throughout the entire pandemic.”
“We look forward to working with Los Angeles Unified to increase access to Covid-19 vaccinations in Southeast Los Angeles,” John Wesley Community Health Institute Inc. President and CEO Al Ballesteros said.
Barriers still remain for many to receive a vaccination – access to technology, the lack of time or the inability to navigate the online vaccine lottery to find an appointment and the lack of access to transportation to a distant vaccination site. School-based vaccination efforts – in the neighborhood by trusted partners – can help solve all of these issues. Schools are in regular contact with the families they serve and are a trusted part of the community.
Los Angeles Unified has also set up a Family Vaccination Hotline at (213)328-3958 to provide information and help families make vaccination appointments.
Los Angeles Unified’s efforts to provide a safety net have included providing about 120 million meals along with 26 million items of much-needed supplies including masks and hand sanitizer, diapers and baby wipes, clothing and shoes, toys and sports equipment, books and school supplies, as well as computers and internet access for a half-million students. Los Angeles Unified has also provided more than 600,000 free COVID tests to students, staff and their families at neighborhood schools.
“Vaccinating family members will enable more children to return to school without the fear of bringing the virus home,” Superintendent Beutner said. “The opportunity gaps for students from families who are struggling to get by will only worsen if they’re not back in schools with their peers from more affluent neighborhoods. It’s simple enough to see the solution – providing vaccinations for families with children in schools is the single most important thing we can do to get more children back in schools.”
For information, visit lausd.net.
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