SCV on the School COVID Vaccine Mandate

A+crowd+of+protesters+demonstrates+outside+of+the+Newhall+School+District+office+Monday.+October+18%2C+2021.+Bobby+Block+%2F+The+Signal.

BOBBY BLOCK

A crowd of protesters demonstrates outside of the Newhall School District office Monday. October 18, 2021. Bobby Block / The Signal.

Ava Paulsen, Editor in Chief

California Governor Gavin Newsom announced on October 1st that all 7-12 grade students and staff attending public and private schools in-person must receive the COVID-19 vaccination by July 1st, 2022 in order to attend school in person. California will become the first state in the United States to include the COVID-19 vaccination in its list of mandatory school vaccinations. 

The Los Angeles City Council approved a new ordinance that requires proof of vaccination for those 12 and up or a negative COVID test received in the past 72 hours in order to enter indoor venues such as restaurants, shopping malls, and movie theaters. This mandate includes, but is not limited to, hair salons, nail salons, coffee shops, gyms, museums, and bowling alleys. 

These decisions, particularly the student vaccination mandate, were met with contention from some members of the Santa Clarita community. A protest at the Newhall School District Building and William S. Hart Union School District offices,  along with a “school walkout” all occurred Monday, October 18th where members of the community voiced their objections to the new COVID-19 vaccine mandate in schools. 

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Out of the people that protested, “nearly all were in agreement that their children should not be forced to receive the vaccine to go to school” according to the Signal. Some protesters incorrectly believe that the vaccine is still experimental and that it has not been FDA-approved. 

However, according to a statement by The Office of Governor Gavin Newsom, full approval of ages 12+ corresponds to grades 7-12, and full approval of ages 5-11 corresponds to grades K-6. Since full FDA approval of the COVID-19 vaccine for ages 12-15 is anticipated for no sooner than late November, the subsequent vaccine mandate for students in grades 7-12 will start at the beginning of the next term which either begins January 1st or July 1st, depending on which comes first.

This means that the vaccine will no longer be on emergency authorization use and will be fully FDA approved by the time students are required to be vaccinated. “Students who are under the age of full approval, but within the grade span, will be required to be vaccinated once they reach the age of full approval,” according to the Office of Governor Gavin Newsom.

Emergency authorization of the vaccine for this age group is anticipated for November, but they must wait until the vaccine is fully FDA approved for the mandate to go into effect. The Governor’s office stated that when full FDA approval of vaccines for lower age groups and grade spans the California Department of Public Health or CDPH “will consider the recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Academy of Family Physicians prior to implementing a requirement.” This will ensure that numerous experts on the subject of public and children’s health confirm that the mandate is safe and necessary at that time. 

California’s strict COVID-19 measures have paid off. California is currently one of only two states no longer included on the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) high transmission list. 

Further, California accounts for 12% of the nation’s public schools, but only 0.7% of school COVID-related closures. Only 14 out of 2,000 school nationwide closures are attributed to California. If these statistics aligned with national trends, California should be seeing 240 school closures, which is not the case. 

The measures put into place by the local and state government along with the diligent implementation of these guidelines by school campuses and business across California has decreased the risk and fear of contracting COVID-19 while allowing residents to continue doing regular activities. 

“I feel like I would feel safer,” says Diego Spross, a Junior at Castaic High School. He explains that he feels the importance of the mandate is more about coming back to school to see everyone. “Cause I really hated it when we weren’t here at school,” Diego says, “So if [the vaccine mandate] keeps everyone together, it’s worth it.”