December 1, 2021

DCTRS

Damascus Center for Theoretical and Civil Rights Studies

How SoFi Stadium will be used to vaccinate LAUSD teachers

SoFi Stadium was built as home to the Rams and Chargers, and also as a host to an array of mega-events such as Super Bowls, Final Fours, and the Olympic Games.

No one could have guessed the $5-billion venue would play a vital role in combating the COVID-19 scourge.

Concerns about the global pandemic forced the cancelation of the stadium’s grand-opening event, a Taylor Swift concert planned for last July, and led to teams across the NFL playing games in cavernous stadiums with fake noise and cardboard fans.

But starting this week, the sprawling SoFi parking lot will be used as a large-scale vaccination site for teachers, administrators and staff of Los Angeles Unified School District, the second-largest in the nation with more than 85,000 employees.

L.A. Unified has partnered with the Rams, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Anthem, the City of Inglewood and others with the aim of offering vaccinations for teachers and school staff throughout the L.A. area to help facilitate in-person learning.

“Vaccinations for all who work in schools is a critical piece to reopening school classrooms in the safest way possible,” Austin Beutner, L.A. Unified superintendent, told The Times. “We want to provide the vaccinations as quickly and safely as possible.”

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced last week that, beginning Monday, California will earmark 10% of its weekly vaccine supplies for teachers, school staff and childcare providers.

On Friday, Beutner, Rams linebacker Kenny Young and others were on site to observe as L.A. Unified staff went through procedures and protocols in a dry run for mass vaccinations. Thousands of orange cones were lined up as cars and yellow school buses made their way through the testing site.

SoFi Stadium in Inglewood will begin vaccinating LAUSD teachers and staff on Monday.

(Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

Beutner said he was in discussion with Cedars-Sinai when it was suggested he reach out to the Rams. He said he called Kevin Demoff, the Rams’ chief operating officer, who welcomed the opportunity to help and continue a growing partnership with schools.

Young, who played in college at UCLA, said he was happy to participate in whatever role needed.

“I’m big on education,” said Young, who has been active in literacy projects through his Tackle Young Foundation. “It’s been a huge part of my life.”

The plan calls for L.A. Unified school nurses and other licensed healthcare professionals to administer the vaccine and be available to provide assistance to anyone who might have an adverse reaction.

Anthem will provide volunteer clinical personnel to augment the L.A. Unified staff, and Cedars-Sinai will help with technical support and training in the vaccination effort. Inglewood Mayor James T. Butts has been vocal in his support in this effort and the broader one to provide vaccinations for school staff.

LAUSD buses line up in a "dry run" at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood on Friday.

LAUSD buses line up in a “dry run” at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood on Friday as they prepare to begin vaccinating all teachers and staff on Monday.

(Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

The Rams are providing the infrastructure and logistical assistance to administer the vaccines, as well as players to help spread the word.

L.A. Unified serves about 650,000 students across an area of 700 square miles, Beutner said. Employees will be able to schedule vaccination appointments through the “Daily Pass” app. They can drive to the Inglewood site or, if they desire, be transported to and from by district buses from 44 district locations.

“We want to take the burden off them and make it as easy as possible,” Beutner said.

Beutner said the district will be supplied with 8,800 doses in the coming week and that a news conference will take place Monday at the stadium.

“This is a start,” he said. “We’re working closely with the governor’s office to increase the number of available doses in the days and weeks to come.”

Just as Rams fans need a ticket to get into a game, L.A. Unified staff will be using an electronic ticket of sorts to get vaccinated.

Beginning eight months ago, at the direction of L.A. Unified and to help facilitate the healthy and safe return to school campuses, Microsoft began building Daily Pass. It’s a scheduling and information system that can be used to make appointments for COVID testing and vaccinations, can provide information to the appropriate health authorities, and produces a QR code that serves as a daily ticket for both students and staff to enter schools.

“It’s a lot of information to keep track of, and we want to make it easy for students and staff to get in and out of schools,” Beutner said.

He said the combination of Daily Pass, vaccinations, and state-of-art health practices are “the golden ticket to get students back into the magical place that we call a classroom.”