Vaccine mandate coming

Gov. Newsom announces all students will need COVID shot

Gov.+Gavin+Newsom+announced+last+month+that+all+K-12+students+and+staff+would+need+to+be+vaccinated+against+COVID-19.

Carol Chen

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced last month that all K-12 students and staff would need to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Tanvi Pandya, Staff Writer

California is headed toward bcoming the first state to impose a vaccination mandate for all  school students and staff.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced on Oct. 1 his COVID-19 vaccine mandate for staff and students. All students in grades K-12 and staff will be required to show proof of vaccination to attend school in person once the vaccine is fully approved by the FDA for the 5-11 and 12-17-year-old age groups. 

 The mandate is set to take place in either January or July 2022, but Cal High administrators are skeptical of it being implemented so quickly.

“It’s a highly political decision,” Principal Megan Keefer said. “I’m only going on a hunch, but considering it is already November I don’t know if a decision this enormous could happen so quickly.”

School nurse Niko Holmes said the mandate is expected to apply for grades 7-12 on July 1, 2022, and for grades K-6 on July 1, 2023. Holmes says the rules for vaccine exemptions have not yet been determined.

A cluster sample survey conducted by The Californian on Nov. 9 estimated that 73.2 percent of students support the school vaccine mandate, with 16.1 percent of students opposing it and 10.7 percent having no opinion. 

The survey included three classrooms from the main building. One classroom was randomly selected from each floor of the main building and the students in that room’s first period class were surveyed. Fifty-six students were surveyed, using an anonymous Google Form. 

Once the mandate takes effect, how it would affect students and staff would vary based on their vaccination status. For those already vaccinated, nothing will change. For others, it could alter the course of their education. 

Students who aren’t vaccinated would have to enroll in an independent study school, instead of in-person school, according to EdSource. 

One Cal sophomore, who is unvaccinated because of parents’ beliefs and wished to remain anonymous, is concerned about the mandate.

“It’s not like I have a choice,” the student said. “I don’t do as well with online school and I can’t afford to go to a private school.”

Unvaccinated students would not be able to attend private school because it applies to them as well as those in public schools. The sophomore would not be able to continue attending Cal if the mandate is implemented, and the student’s parents don’t allow them to get the vaccine.

Spanish III teacher Ivette Maclean hopes the vaccine would not force students to lose learning opportunities.

“Overall, I think I support the vaccine mandate, as long as people who do not have the ability to get vaccinated don’t get jeopardized,” Maclean said.

Others are also uncertain about how people will react to the mandate.

“I am a little nervous about the mandate because I think there is a lot more hesitancy amongst the population than evident,” history and philosophy teacher Tyler Gulyas said.

But Maclean believes that Gov. Newsom’s mandate is for the greater good.  

“There will be a struggle with accepting the mandate, because some people associate it with losing freedom,” Maclean said.

San Ramon Valley Unified School District reported that 94 percent of its entire staff was vaccinated as of early September based on a self-attestaton survey administered by the district. Emails from to the district to get updated figures of verified staff vaccination rates were not returned.

There are several arguments against the mandate. Some find the potential mandate unfair, as it isn’t possible for everyone to get the vaccine.

If the mandate is implemented as planned, unvaccinated students who want to continue attending public or private schools won’t be able to.

Junior Ronit Prakash said he wouldn’t mind the mandate as long as it’s for people’s safety.

“I would want it to be fair for everyone,” said Prakash, who is fully vaccinated. “A lot of people are already vaccinated, so I don’t think it would cause too many problems for our school.”

Many favor the mandate for a variety of different reasons.

“I don’t know if there’s any rational opposition to getting vaccinated, and I do think you are on shaky moral ground if you refuse it,” Gulyas said.

Staff and students alike say it will make schools a safer place to be in. 

“Anything to keep students safe,” assistant principal Jeffrey Osborn said. “If this is a way for us to get back to ‘normal,’ and it keeps students safe, I’m in favor.” 

This wouldn’t be the first time California has set measures in place to protect public schools students and staff from COVID-19. 

As of  September, California was one of 16 states to require masks in public schools, and many school districts, such as SRVUSD, have enforced a quarantine period if a student has any  COVID symptoms. 

“The biggest priority should be for every kid to feel like they belong at school, and to remain healthy and happy,” Keefer said.