By Ray Richardson
INGLEWOOD — In an effort to bolster the reopening of schools, the Los Angeles Unified School District is seeking authorization from Los Angeles County to operate a large-scale COVID-19 vaccination site at SoFi Stadium “as soon as possible.”
School district officials confirmed a partnership with the Los Angeles Rams, Hollywood Park and the city of Inglewood Feb. 17 to help create the site that would vaccinate public and private school teachers, administrators and staff from county schools that wish to participate.
“A dedicated vaccination site and comprehensive effort for the education community would allow schools to re-open sooner and in a more coordinated manner,” LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner said.
Details of the request were outlined in a Feb. 15 letter sent from LAUSD officials to county Department of Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer and County Office of Education Superintendent Debra Duardo.
The LAUSD partnership includes Anthem Blue Cross and Cedars-Sinai, medical agencies that would help supervise administration of the vaccines to more than a million students and tens of thousands teachers and staff.
“In speaking with Superintendent Beutner and Inglewood Mayor Butts about how we can best support our community during this time, it became clear that assisting schools to reopen safely would have wide-ranging impacts for all L.A. citizens,” said Kevin Demoff, chief operating officer for the Rams.
During the Super Bowl Feb. 7, the NFL announced that all 30 of its stadiums would be available to serve as vaccination sites if needed.
“This is another critical step to keep L.A. citizens safe and healthy in our fight against COVID-19,” said Jason Gannon, managing director for SoFi Stadium and Hollywood Park.
According to the plan presented by the LAUSD, the proposed site would be staffed by 600 school nurses and other licensed health care professionals to administer the vaccine and monitor recipients in case of potential allergic reactions.
The plan also provides for volunteer clinical personnel from Anthem Blue Cross to assist school nurses. Cedars-Sinai is providing training to support the vaccination effort, according to the plan.
The state announced earlier this week that elementary schools resume in-person classes across Los Angeles County after the county’s rate of new COVID-19 infections dropped below the state’s threshold for reopening campuses.
But United Teachers Los Angeles, the union that represents LAUSD teachers said they wouldn’t return to the classroom until teachers had been vaccinated against the virus.
“While L.A. educators want nothing more than to be back in classrooms, the risk of community transmission of COVID-19 in Los Angeles County is still too high,” the union said in a statement. “UTLA remains committed to the health and safety of our students and our communities.”
A key component of the plan announced by the LAUSD is productivity. LAUSD expects to be able to vaccinate at least 10,000 people per day at Hollywood Park when the facility becomes fully operational.
“The opening of this vaccination site would mark a major step forward to protect our most vulnerable communities and begin the process for an eventual safe return to in-person classes,” said Max Arias, executive director of SEIU Local 99.
Site management plans to use a technology and data system that can register individuals, schedule vaccination appointments and share the data with appropriate authorities.
Ray Richardson is a contributing writer for The Wave. He can be reached at email@example.com.