A public school district in Northern California announced Wednesday it will not be enforcing the state’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for K–12 schools.
In a 5–0 vote, the governing board of the Calaveras Unified School District (CUSD) decided at a Tuesday meeting to not “enforce, support, or comply” with Gov. Gavin Newsom’s mandate, which would require students at all public, public charter, and private schools to receive COVID-19 vaccines following full federal approval of the shots for their grade span.
“Our vote to not support, enforce or comply to Governor Newsom’s vaccine mandate for our k-12 schools was made after much thought and after listening to the many voices throughout our community,” Christine Noble, CUSD Board Trustee and President, wrote in an email statement to The Epoch Times. “Our vote was not made lightly, but the need for personal choice was clear. It is not ethically moral for me to impose this mandate on our students and dismiss parental choice,” according to Noble.
The school board said in a message to the school community that the decision, which came during the meeting, applies to both students and employees, adding that it will further discuss and potentially make a decision on mask mandates and testing protocols at its next meeting scheduled for Nov. 23.
Suzie Coe, a CUSD Board Member and Board Chair of the Mokelumne Hill Fire Protection District,told The Epoch Times many parents say they do not want their children vaccinated because they see it as government trying to take control of their children. Coe speaks as an individual and not on behalf of any entity.
“The board members are, I believe, they feel is right and that is letting the parents make a decision for their own children,” Coe said.She predicts the pandemic relief funds they have been receiving may stop coming.
In an earlier statement, the CUSD said its board was aware of the possible repercussions the district may face as a result of rejecting the state mandate, including “possible liability exposure, funding loss, and other formal actions that can be taken against the district.”
“[Board members] understand there are strong perspectives and opinions on both sides of the issue,” the statement read. “They understand the Superintendent’s recommendation for mandate compliance based on these potential consequences, but they feel strong in their individual positions on this topic.”
Coe said she has received many emails of encouragement, mostly thanking the board for standing up against the government.
“The emails have been from doctors, pharmacists, government people, grandmothers, just people from all over the country, North Carolina, Montana, Florida, Arizona, Midwest,” Coe said. “Some of them are from law firms, volunteering their services and almost everybody volunteered to give us money if we ended up in a problem. They had our backs.”
CUSD serves about 5,300 students and includes five elementary schools, one middle school, and Calaveras County’s only two public high schools.
California became the first state in the nation to announce COVID-19 vaccine requirements for K–12 schools in October, when the pediatric vaccines were still pending a recommendation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Newsom said the mandate would take effect only when the vaccines receive full approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in children.
“The state already requires that students are vaccinated against viruses that cause measles, mumps, and rubella,” Newsom said when he announced the mandate. “There’s no reason why we wouldn’t do the same for COVID-19.”
“Vaccines work. It’s why California leads the country in preventing school closures and has the lowest case rates,” said the Democratic governor, who survived his recall election fueled by his pandemic response. “We encourage other states to follow our lead to keep our kids safe and prevent the spread of COVID-19.”
Despite mask mandates and other preventive measures the Newsom administration put in place, California’ COVID-19 infection rate has recently stopped dropping and started ticking up. As of Nov. 10, California remains one of the CDC’s red “high” level of virus transmission states, compared to yellow “moderate” level in Florida, where there is no state-issued mask or vaccination mandate.