LA schools offering gift cards, 'Hamilton' tickets for student vaccinations

The Los Angeles Board of Education announced that they will spend about $5 million on prizes, including gift cards to Amazon and Target as well as tickets to the play "Hamilton," as incentives to encourage student vaccinations. 

The board hopes the incentive program will boost the county's roughly 72 percent vaccine compliance rate for students by Sunday, the Los Angeles Unified School District's (LAUSD) self-imposed deadline to get students 12 and older vaccinated, the Los Angeles Times reported

The program mainly consists of raffle prizes, which have included gift cards to grocery stores; tickets to Disneyland, Six Flags Magic Mountain and Universal Studios Hollywood; and entertainment packages for graduation night, according to the Times. Some schools have also brought in food trucks and given out T-shirts to students who comply with the vaccine mandate. 

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The board had to waive a rule at a financial incentives meeting Tuesday that mandates "a limit of $40 for personal gifts to students and parents/guardians," given that rewards on average would be between $100 and $350, the Times noted. The $5 million is covered by taxpayer funding, and any additional prizes will come from donors.

The board defended the spending in a report, writing that the money serves "a legitimate public and educational purpose," according to the Times. 

The district announced in September that all students would be required to be fully vaccinated by Jan. 10, the start of the second semester, or they would not be allowed on campus.  

City officials also announced that weekly coronavirus testing for students and school staff members will end at the beginning of the December break, an effort that has resulted in 500,000 tests a week and a total cost of about $350 million, according to the Times.