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Washington, DC, students over the age of 12 will need to take the COVID-19 vaccine to attend school, a decision that could weigh heavily on the city’s black students.
“Our goal is that no child misses a single day of school,” Asad Bandealy, head of the DC Department of Health’s Health Care Access Office, said of the mandate, according to reports from the Washington Post. “And that means we have to start now.”
About 85% of the Washington, D.C. student population between the ages of 12 and 15 is currently vaccinated against COVID-19, but only 60% of black students in the same age range have received the vaccine. If the vaccine mandate is strictly enforced, it could cause more stress on minority communities that have already been disproportionately harmed by COVID-19 policies.
According to a study conducted by Harvard University, closed schools have led to significant losses in student achievement during the coronavirus pandemic, especially among minority and low-income students.
COVID BLUE STATE LEARNING LOSS WIDED RACIAL ACHIEVEMENT GAPS COMPARED TO RED STATES: STUDY
“Students in very poor schools that were remote for most of 2020-21 lost about 0.45 standard deviations in math,” said Thomas Kane, a Harvard education professor and one of the authors of the study. study, about the results of the study in an interview with the Harvard Gazette earlier this year.
Kane said achievement gaps widened in districts that spent more than three weeks in remote learning, arguing that in-person instruction was a “critical part of our social infrastructure that we had taken for granted.”
But many students in the nation’s capital may now be forced into remote learning situations again with the vaccination mandate, which is one of the strictest in the country.
New York students are strongly encouraged to get vaccinated but are not required to do so unless they plan to participate in certain athletic programs, while Los Angeles students will not be required to get vaccinated after that the Los Angeles Unified School District delayed a term. which was to be put in place for the coming school year.
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New Orleans is one of the few large districts in the country to have a policy similar to Washington, DC’s, adding the coronavirus vaccine to a list of required vaccinations for students over age 5 in February.
The nation’s capital has one of the nation’s unique public school systems, which is governed by the 13-member DC Council, not a school board. Anne Liu, an infectious disease physician and associate clinical professor at Stanford University, told the Washington Post that officials hope mandates such as DC’s will help increase vaccination rates among children.
“I think it’s in the best interests of the children, the teachers and the school staff, and the rest of the city,” Liu said, calling higher vaccination rates a “positive thing to work towards.”
The offices of DC Council Chairman Phil Mendelson and Mayor Muriel Bowser did not immediately respond to a Fox News request for comment.