Parents Protest California Student’s COVID-19 Vaccination Mandate
Groups of parents and out-of-school children in protest lined the sidewalk outside Birmingham High School in Lake Balboa on Monday, as part of statewide protests against California’s mandate demanding that all Kindergarten to Grade 12 students get vaccinated against COVID-19.
Parents, children and some school district employees were holding signs reading “Our children are not lab rats” and “Our children, our choice.” Similar scenes unfolded in Huntington Beach and Sacramento, where the State Capitol protest appeared to be the largest.
On October 1, Governor Gavin Newsom announced a statewide vaccination mandate for all public and private students in Kindergarten to Grade 12, the first of its kind in the country. Students in grades 7 through 12 would be among the first to be required to be vaccinated under the mandate, starting with the term following full approval of the vaccine by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Students under 12 would then be integrated gradually.
The announcement has aroused the ire of some parents, including those who do not consider themselves anti-vaccine but oppose their children being immunized with available COVID-19 vaccines.
The mandate of pupil vaccination enjoys wide support among parents and educators. United Teachers Los Angeles, which represents more than 30,000 teachers, nurses, counselors and librarians, has approved a mandate for employees and students.
In Sacramento, people gathered on the steps of the Capitol after two Californians staged the protest, according to the Sacramento Bee. One parent said she plans to teach her children at home rather than getting them vaccinated.
The dispersed protests fell on the same day that a COVID-19 vaccine warrant was issued for employees of the Los Angeles Unified School District. As of Monday, no district employee could stay in a school without receiving at least one dose of the vaccine.
Nery Paiz, head of Associated Administrators of Los Angeles, the directors’ union, spoke proudly of a 99.4% compliance rate among its 3,000 members.
Classroom teachers were 99% on Monday. Members of the union that represents most of the lowest-paid workers in the district – including teaching assistants, extracurricular and on-campus assistants, bus drivers, guards and catering workers – were at 95% Monday night compliance, depending on the school district.
“We are continuing negotiations with LAUSD regarding their staffing plans and the impact this will have on student services and the workers who provide them,” said Max Arias, executive director of Local 99 of Service Employees International. Union. “The district must keep the doors open for workers who have not yet received the vaccine. By pushing for layoffs, the district is taking a punitive approach that will deny workers re-employment rights. “
Those willing to sacrifice their jobs include Christopher Adams, an assistant transportation supervisor for school buses, who refused to be vaccinated. He said Friday was his last working day after nearly three decades with the district. He has joined the protest outside Birmingham High School and is hoping LAUSD will change course.
The 49-year-old said during the pandemic he and his team were responsible for transporting coronavirus tests to the district.
He said he doesn’t know what the next step is for him.
“We were risking our lives, and for LA Unified, turning our backs on us and saying, ‘We don’t care’ is another slap in the face,” Adams said.