The San Diego Unified School District board defended their unanimous decision to recommend mandatory coronavirus vaccinations for all eligible students and district employees on Wednesday.
"We’re standing up for someone that’s immunocompromised like me, we're standing up saying we support every student and to make sure we prioritize health and safety," said SDUSD student board member Zachary Patterson.
During Tuesday night’s virtual San Diego Unified School District Board of Education meeting a unanimous vote was made to mandate COVID-19 vaccines for all eligible students and district employees. The decision met with some opposition.
Outside of the San Diego Unified School District office Tuesday night people rallied opposing the vaccine mandate, arguing students should have the right to attend school regardless of their vaccination status.
"The responsible thing to do is to see long-term studies on this, to not be seeing recalls, to not be seeing side effects," one anti-mandate parent said. "There are some parents -- even if they saw those long-term studies, they wouldn't feel good about giving their kids the COVID-19 vaccine."
Students age 16 and older would be required to be fully vaccinated by Dec. 20 to attend school in person and be part of extracurricular activities. Those unvaccinated would have to enroll to the schools virtual academy.
"We want to make sure that in our implementation plan we’re doing everything that we can to avoid getting to that point where a deadline is coming, and now we’ll potentially see a large amount of students who can't come to school, or a large number of staff that need to be replaced," said SDUSD Board President Richard Barrera.
All employees and workers would also need to meet the Dec. 20 deadline as the mandate would be a condition of employment and a requirement for contracted services.
Additionally, the board defended their decision saying there is no hidden agenda or motive, they are just following science. They say the mandate was also backed by the San Diego County Medical Society.
"The health experts were unanimous in their conclusion that a vaccine mandate for students and staff is the most effective preventive strategy to contain the virus and keep people healthy and safe," said Barrera.
As for younger students, those 12 through 15 would be required to be fully vaccinated at an undetermined date awaiting on the FDA's full approval, same for students age 5 to 11.
This move follows similar measures taken at Los Angele and Oakland Unified. Barrera said they believe momentum is building for a statewide school vaccine mandate, which the board said they fully support.