On Friday, more parents, students, teachers, and other school staff joined in the planned statewide school walkout to protest vaccine mandates for those attending or working in schools.
While the walkout will be against local mandates, such as the Los Angeles and San Diego school district mandates for staff and of-age students, it will mainly go against the statewide mandate approved by Governor Gavin Newsom earlier this month. According to his mandate, all K-12 students must be completely vaccinated soon to continue to attend class in-person, dependent on FDA age group approval.
The mandate has already led to a spike in parents withdrawing their students in favor of homeschooling, which is not covered under the mandate. However, despite the rapidly growing homeschooling movement, many parents who don’t wish to vaccinate their children cannot afford or have the time to homeschool their children. And with other options, such as charter and private schools also being covered under the new mandate, parents were left with few options, leading to the walkout on Monday.
While school walkouts are not uncommon in California, with some, such as the 1968 East Los Angeles walkouts, even making international news, there has yet to be a major walkout effort associated with COVID-19 vaccination mandates.
That will change Monday however, with walkouts planned from Redding in far Northern California to a large Capitol protest in Sacramento, to numerous cities in Orange County and San Diego County in Southern California. Spearheaded by social media groups and parent-led organizations, they hope to get the attention of the Governor and school officials by showing the sheer number of people in the state still against the mandate.
“They are just not listening to us,” said Julia, a parent who is helping organize walkouts at several districts in the Central Valley, to the Globe on Friday. “And we have a lot of people against the mandates for different reasons. I’d say over 90% of the parents and teachers I’ve talked with are not doing this because they are anti-vaxxers. They’re a non-factor in this. Most either see this as being against their personal liberties, they don’t think the vaccines work, they’re against them for health reasons, they’re against them for belief reasons, or they simply just don’t trust them.”
“And it has created some odd situations. There are very anti-illegal immigrant families and immigrant families from Mexico joining together on this. One black mom told me this morning that she is against any government mandated vaccine after what happened to some people in her family at Tuskegee. There is no one reason behind being against the mandate, and not a lot of people really want to know that fact.”
Despite the growing number of planned walkouts statewide, Governor Newsom and health officials have maintained that the vaccine mandate for students is there to help reduce COVID-19 cases and protect children from contracting the virus.
“The state already requires that students are vaccinated against viruses that cause measles, mumps, and rubella – there’s no reason why we wouldn’t do the same for COVID-19,” said the Governor earlier this month. “Vaccines work. It’s why California leads the country in preventing school closures and has the lowest case rates. We encourage other states to follow our lead to keep our kids safe and prevent the spread of COVID-19.”
Walkouts are to occur at the beginning of the school day on Monday.
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