California is leading the country in student vaccine mandates that will disproportionately harm the education of poor and minority students.

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Even as America’s overall COVID-19 death toll shoots north of 765,000, one population subcategory remains comparatively—and remarkably—impervious to the lethal virus: kids.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there had been only 605 U.S. deaths involving COVID among children under the age of 18 as of November 17. That compares to 1,105 pediatric deaths over the same time span involving pneumonia, an infection for which the public education system has not been radically reorganized.

And yet the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), the country’s second-largest, is poised to bar from schoolhouse grounds as many as 44,000 students who failed to meet the district’s November 21 deadline for getting a first vaccination shot, according to numbers crunched by the Los Angeles Times.

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The LAUSD, which established the vaccine mandates for students 12 and over in late September, a month into the school year, announced Monday that 79 percent of eligible students had either received or scheduled their first jab, or qualified for a medical exemption. (Unlike LAUSD teachers, students are ineligible for a religious exemption.)

The hard deadline for a second shot is December 19, three weeks before the new school semester begins. All students who don’t comply will be shunted into a remote, independent study program called City of Angels, which (per the L.A. Times) “has been beset by staffing shortages and instability. Parents of students with special needs have been particularly upset at the limitations of the program—and many students waited weeks before being able to receive any meaningful instruction.” At a current 16,000 students, City of Angels could be forced to triple in size overnight.

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