California Mandates Vaccine For Students

Information from and California Department of Health. (Graphic by Reddin Kehrli)

Reddin Kehrli, Social Media Editor

All California students ages 12 and older are legally required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by July 1 to attend California public schools. Governor Gavin Newsom announced the new mandate at a San Francisco high school on Oct. 1. This new development is sparking controversy and has been met with a range of responses.

Recently, California has had some of lowest COVID-19 rates in the nation but continues to issue mandates for healthcare workers, students, educators and state employees. 

Superintendent of the Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified School District (PVPUSD) Alexander Cherniss said the school district intends to enforce the new mandate “as required by the law.”

  “It is our understanding that the school term following full FDA approval of the vaccine the law will require vaccines for all grades 7-12 and all staff,” Cherniss said. 

Across the state, school districts have different feelings about the new mandate. 

“I think the vaccine is a good idea but no one should be forced to get it,” junior Ainsley Schmitz said. “The mandate scares me in the sense that the government is getting involved in a health issue when it has no business being there.”

For students who refuse the COVID-19 vaccination, an independent study course at home will be available across the state. 

Circulating through the media was a state-wide peaceful sit-out for students, parents and educators in opposition to the vaccination mandate. This sit-out, on Oct. 18, was organized by a political group, Mothers For Liberty. They demand the freedom to make decisions such as vaccinating their children. 

Thousands of students across the state missed school that day, putting their position on the law into action. 

Many students and teachers question if anything will change at PVPUSD schools.

 “I don’t foresee any change,” Cherniss said. “We have vaccine mandates already in place for other diseases. This will be no different.” 

There will still be on-site school testing and other guidelines to ensure the safety of all students. 

Schmitz adds, “I don’t feel any safety concerns, however, if everyone was vaccinated it would be nice to be able to return to a sense of normalcy.” 

Although the new law is required for all students 16 years and older, there is a potential loophole that could prove to create an easy-out for those who wish to remain unvaccinated. 

In the law, there is an exception for those whose vaccine goes against religious or ideological reasons. This exception could be taken advantage of in the future for those against COVID-19 vaccinations.

Cherniss would like to remind all students of the Palos Verdes school district that, “vaccine mandates have been a common part of public school for decades.”