L.A. Student Athletes Sidelined Over COVID Vaccine Mandates

LAUSD requires students 12 and up to get their first shot by November 21 and their second by December 19

While most students in the Los Angeles Unified School District still have time to comply with the district’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate if they wish to keep learning in person, the deadline for student-athletes, band members, and participants in other extracurricular activities just expired. With some teams suddenly losing half of their players and the Los Angeles City Section playoffs starting this week, it’s turning out to be a prescription for disappointment.

LAUSD requires students 12 and up to get their first shot by November 21 and their second by December 19, but athletes were supposed to get their first by October 3 and the second by the 31st, and so few have met that last deadline that teams are struggling even to put together a proper practice.

Canoga Park High School’s football team, the Hunters, are gearing up for their Division I first round playoff game against Franklin High on Friday, but nearly half the team is home because they didn’t get their jabs in time.

“I have 17 players that can’t practice this week,” coach David Perez tells the Los Angeles Daily News. Most of them have gotten their second shot, but now we have to wait for the district to clear them.”

Perez tells the paper that he’d be lucky to field 25 players at practice this week, adding, “I’m not holding my breath. I have to prepare for the worst and hope for the best.”

While Perez estimates it could take weeks to get all his players cleared, Grant High athletic director Jon Manocchio—who’s worked with LAUSD since 1985—tells the News he’s seen the district do it in just three days.

“Maybe, it was when they were less bogged down, but I’ve seen it done quickly,” Manocchio said. “If everything is accurate when submitted, I think they can clear the student-athlete pretty quickly. Some kids get clearance in their student e-mails and don’t even know it.”

But even with that optimism, the vaccination status of some key players on Grant’s girls’ volleyball team, the Lancers, remains in question as their semifinal matchup against Sylmar gets underway this afternoon.

Charter schools have a much easier process, the paper notes. Birmingham Charter Patriots coach Jim Rose says it’s as simple as having an on-campus nurse clear players when they bring proof of vaccination to school.

With the Open Division City champion Patriots looking to repeat this fall, Rose explains, “I’d say 98 percent of our team is vaccinated. A lot of our kids got their second dose last week, they submit their vaccination info to the school nurse and it might take a day or two at most, but it’s all in house. None of our stuff goes to the district.”

The Los Angeles Times reports that about 70 percent of LAUSD student-athletes had received at least one shot by October 25, meaning that three in ten face getting kicked off their teams.

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