Orange County Parents and Students “Sit and Rally” Against Student Vaccine Mandates

By Brandon Drey
Brandon Drey
Brandon Drey
Brandon Drey is a California-based reporter for The Epoch Times.
November 16, 2021 Updated: November 17, 2021

SAN CLEMENTE, Calif.—Parents and children gathered at the San Clemente Pier on Nov. 15 for a “Sit and Rally” demonstration to protest California’s COVID-19 vaccine requirements for K–12 students.

Last month, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced plans to add the COVID-19 vaccine to the list of vaccinations required to attend school in-person, making California the only state in the nation to implement such a mandate.

Newsom said the requirement takes effect as early as New Year’s Day or as late as July 1, 2022. However, California parents are speaking out against it.

“Everybody is coming out of the woodwork,” Erin Raith, co-organizer of the event, told The Epoch Times. “It used to be something that we didn’t talk about, and now I find that more and more parents are getting more comfortable standing up and saying, ‘No, we do not want to have our kids vaccinated.'”

Epoch Times Photo
Parents and children gather at the San Clemente Pier for a statewide “Sit and Rally” demonstration to protest California’s COVID-19 vaccine requirements for K–12 students in San Clemente, Calif., on Nov. 15, 2021. (Brandon Drey/The Epoch Times)

Despite the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Oct. 29 emergency use authorization of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children 5–11 years of age, Raith said that more than half of the parents and students are resisting the state’s mandate across Orange County.

Amber Smith, co-founder of Moms on the Ground, a grassroots movement to end COVID-19 vaccine mandates for California schoolchildren, said she started homeschooling one of her kids last month due to the recent vaccine requirements.

“Everybody is pretty much on the same page saying that if this mandate goes through, we’re going to be pulling our kids,” Smith told The Epoch Times. “And honestly, we need to pull our kids, and we need to show them that we’re not going to put up with this.”

After adverse side effects surfaced from the vaccines, such as myocarditis or pericarditis (heart inflammation), she said that forcing children to take the jab without longer-term research wasn’t worth the risk.

Other parents at the protest expressed the same sentiment.

Tracy Sutherland, a co-founder of the protest, said homeschool pods are forming across the state, and parents are exploring their children’s education options rather than moving out of California.

“The public and private schools are not the only options in the state, and we should not have to leave,” Sutherland told The Epoch Times.

Epoch Times Photo
Parents and children gather at the San Clemente Pier for a statewide “Sit and Rally” demonstration to protest California’s COVID-19 vaccine requirements for K–12 students in San Clemente, Calif., on Nov. 15, 2021. (Brandon Drey/The Epoch Times)

The All-American Micro-Class Academy (AAMCA) founders also attended the “Sit and Rally” demonstration. The academy is “a membership-based organization of parents and teachers united by their God-given and American constitutional freedoms to make health and education choices for their children without government intervention or control.”

“We’ve been working on this knowing that the impossible may happen, and we’re not about to let our teachers and our children down,” Kimberly Freescha, co-founder of AAMCA, told The Epoch Times. “We have to wake up and defend our freedoms, especially for our children.”

Lisa Davis, a board member with Capistrano Unified School District (CUSD), said the district saw approximately 3,500 students, or 8 percent of the population, withdrawal enrollment over the last year and a half.

“If the COVID-19 vaccine mandate goes through, we will see a huge decline in enrollment,” Davis told The Epoch Times.

The night before the demonstration, over 800 students each placed a pair of shoes along with handwritten letters opposing both the vaccine and mask mandates outside the Capistrano Unified School District (CUSD) building.

“Parents and students have found their voice, and they’re starting to make it known that they want a say in what their children are taught and a choice in what is put in their child’s bodies,” said Davis.

Epoch Times Photo
(Courtesy of Lisa Davis)

Each letter included the student’s name, age, and why they opposed the mandates.

“My name is Lucy. I am 7 years old. I love my school, teacher, and friends. Since we returned to school, we wear masks. I have speech delay and masks make me nervous and has made my speech therapy difficult. After graduating speech, my speech delay returned, and I have been slurring my speech. Please end mask mandates,” a letter reads.

A letter from a teacher was also among the students’ letters, backing up their opposition.

“For 18 years, I have given my heart and soul to shape little minds. I love teaching and will continue to give my heart to my students each day, but I draw the line with these mandates. Let them learn and let us teach,” the letter reads.

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine proved a 90.7 percent efficacy in preventing children 5 through 11 from contracting the deadly virus. The research conducted included approximately 3,100 children in this age range, who reportedly received the vaccine with no severe side effects.

Acting FDA Commissioner Dr. Janet Woodcock said in a statement: “As a mother and a physician, I know that parents, caregivers, school staff, and children have been waiting for today’s authorization. Vaccinating younger children against COVID-19 will bring us closer to returning to a sense of normalcy. Our comprehensive and rigorous evaluation of the data pertaining to the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness should help assure parents and guardians that this vaccine meets our high standards.”

COVID-19 cases in children 5 to 11 make up 39 percent of cases in the United States.

Nancy Sutherland, a retired registered nurse and one of the protesters in attendance, said the demonstrations against the COVID-19 vaccine mandate remind her of the fight for children’s safety on the road and how it formed the Mothers Against Drunk Driving nonprofit during the 1980s.

“We need to join together, hold hands, and link arms, across the country and the world to stop this insanity. We have the right to choose, that should be our basic freedom, and I don’t think anyone should be able to mandate us to do something that harms our children or harms us.”

Brandon Drey
Brandon Drey is a California-based reporter for The Epoch Times.