Hundreds of Parents, Students Flock to California School Board Meeting to Oppose Vaccine Mandate

By John Fredricks
John Fredricks
John Fredricks
John Fredricks is a California-based journalist for The Epoch Times. His reportage and photojournalism features have been published in a variety of award-winning publications around the world.
October 13, 2021 Updated: October 19, 2021

Hundreds of parents and students gathered at a recent Placentia Yorba Linda Unified School District (PYLUSD) board meeting to voice their opposition to the COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

The crowd began to arrive during the school board’s 6 p.m. scheduled closed session before the 7 p.m. public meeting, during which they shared their concerns about California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s mandated coronavirus vaccinations for all eligible students in the state.

“Friday, after the governor’s announcement that he will mandate the COVID vaccine for all school children, our district sent an email saying what that would look like when the time comes,” Kristen Mortensen of Placentia told The Epoch Times.

“Since then, hundreds of parents with and without the shot have come together to fight for medical choice. This is way too new to be injecting 100 percent of our kids, and we need to have a choice.”

On Oct. 1, Newsom announced that students would be required to be vaccinated for COVID-19 for in-person learning starting the term following FDA full approval of the vaccine for their age group.

The FDA expanded emergency use authorization (EUA) of the Pfizer vaccine on May 10 to include children age 12 through 15 years of age, amending their previous Dec. 11, 2020, EUA for vaccinations for ages 16 and older.

With the majority of California school districts reporting at least 95 percent of students back in classrooms, Newsom directed the California Department of Public Health to take steps to add the COVID-19 vaccine to other vaccinations required for in-person school attendance, which include vaccinations for measles, mumps, and rubella.

“Today’s action allows for a younger population to be protected from COVID-19, bringing us closer to returning to a sense of normalcy and to ending the pandemic,” Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock said in a statement.

“Parents and guardians can rest assured that the agency undertook a rigorous and thorough review of all available data, as we have with all of our COVID-19 vaccine emergency use authorizations.”

According to the governor’s office, the vaccine requirement is expected to apply to students in grades 7 through 12 starting July 1, 2022.

Epoch Times Photo
Parents gather to express their concerns over vaccine mandates for students at the Placentia Yorba Linda Unified School District building in Placentia, Calif., on Oct. 12, 2021. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Parents Voice Their Concerns

At the PYLUSD board meeting, the majority of parents expressed concerns over the vaccine mandate.

“This is something that you guys can do as far as vaccine mandates go—it’s a mandate for you guys but you don’t have to enforce it,” a father of a student said during the public comment session.

“Give us a way out because the answer is no.”

Other parents pleaded with the school board members to fight for their right to have the choice to vaccinate their children.

“This isn’t a pro-vaccine or an anti-vaccine stand. This is about freedom of choice and parental rights in our children,” said Mike, a father of two children within the district.

“Not just me, not just the people in this room, but the majority of his community draws the line at this mandate.”

“What happened to ‘my body my choice?’ Oh, it didn’t fit your narrative anymore,” said another concerned parent.

“My child doesn’t have his own choice. I’m his parent and I will protect him. His body is my choice and they’re not getting this jab!”

Students within the district also spoke to district board members about their concerns.

“I’m a junior now and COVID started my freshman year. I’m wanting to know that I will be able to graduate my senior year without this vaccine,” said Vanessa, a student within the district.

“I feel like this is really unnecessary to be able to not go to school just because I don’t want to take a vaccine that is not even proven to work.”

Epoch Times Photo
Parents gather to express their concerns over vaccine mandates for students at the Placentia Yorba Linda Unified School District building in Placentia, Calif., on Oct. 12, 2021. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Parents outside the meeting also spoke to The Epoch Times about their views.

“I’m here to stand up for my children’s rights and all kids in our district in our county. They do not deserve to be injected with something that has no long-term studies yet,” said Rick, a father of two students within the district.

“Speaking today, this is for their freedom, and their kids’ freedom and rights.”

Becky, a grandmother in the city of Placentia, expressed similar concerns.

“I’m here basically to support my grandkids because I do not want them injected with anything that has no long-term data behind it that supports it yet,” Becky told The Epoch Times.

Outside the boardroom, a taco cart was set up near the line to enter the building, and red T-shirts stating “I’ll Pull Them” were sold for $5.

The meeting room was filled to capacity, along with every parking spot available within the parking area of the school district building.

“I do not agree with our freedoms being taken away. Mandatory is such a threatening word for people,” said Kristin of Yorba Linda, mother of 11.

“I just feel that we don’t co-parent with the government, and that’s my stand.”

Many families attending the event said they’re confident school board officials have the power to reverse mandatory vaccinations for students attending any of the 34 schools in PYLUSD.

“I’m here because I feel like it’s really important to fight for freedom, especially for the kids and the next generations,” said Renee of Yorba Linda.

“I feel like if we don’t stop this now, the kids after us won’t have a choice. … My daughter is a freshman and she’s having the time of her life, and I don’t want to pull her out and homeschool her, but I absolutely will if this passes.”

To date, PYLUSD has seen a decrease of more than 1,500 students since coronavirus regulations began in March 2020. The district currently has approximately 24,000 students enrolled.

John Fredricks
John Fredricks
John Fredricks is a California-based journalist for The Epoch Times. His reportage and photojournalism features have been published in a variety of award-winning publications around the world.