Eligible San Jose Students Will Need COVID-19 Vaccine
Students wearing masks walked out of James Lick High School in San Jose as class wrapped up for the day. Some stopped to chat with friends and others gathered around a student playing guitar. The atmosphere was light and social. But not all students have been vaccinated against COVID-19.
That could change with Governor Gavin Newsom’s new vaccine mandate. Unless exempted for religious or personal reasons in good faith, unvaccinated students in public and private schools eligible to be vaccinated against COVID will not be allowed to attend school in person.
The requirement comes into effect on January 1 or July 1, 2022, after the Food and Drug Administration fully approves vaccinations for different cohorts, ages 12 and up in Grades 7 through 12. If not vaccinated at this point, students could participate in an independent home study program to learn at their own pace, using the school curriculum and teacher recordings.
Some students like Brizeizy Figueroa could be part of this group. Figueroa said her parents are not in favor of the vaccine – a friend sitting next to her on a school desk is in a similar situation.
âI think it should be your choice,â Figueroa said.
James Lick’s student Jessica Nguyen sees it differently. âI think they should get vaccinated because it helps protect us all from the coronavirus,â she said.
Brandon Herrera, another student at James Lick High School, agrees. âIt helps the world if everyone gets vaccinated so there is no more COVID and people stop dying,â he said.
Jesse Springer, a special education teacher at William Sheppard Middle School in the Alum Rock Union School District, said vaccination is beneficial for children with visual and hearing difficulties. These students need to be in the classroom rather than in independent study, Springer said.
As of Tuesday, there were 142,200 cases of COVID-19 in Santa Clara County and 1,807 deaths, according to Santa Clara County Public Health. About 88.9% of residents 12 years of age and older have received at least one dose of the vaccine and 84.1% are fully immunized.
The new guidelines will apply to teachers and other school employees. All will need to be vaccinated or tested weekly starting in August 2022, now that the FDA has fully approved the Pfizer vaccine for those 16 and older. Authorization for emergency use of the Pfizer vaccine has been granted for 12 to 15 year olds. Moderna and Johnson & Johnson’s COVID vaccines are only licensed for those 18 and over, but companies are expected to apply for a similar clearance once trials are complete.
In search of clarity
James Lick’s parent Luis Marcelino wants teachers and students to be vaccinated.
âWe need to get this situation under control so that we can get back to the situation before the epidemic,â he said.
Josh Parees, student teacher at James Lick, said that unless people have a medical reason, once vaccines have received FDA approval, students, teachers and staff “should absolutely “be vaccinated.
Glenn Vander Zee, superintendent of the East Side Union High School District, expressed concern that state use of the independent study program could overwhelm some school districts.
âDistricts will again have to coordinate an alternative program for a number of students for whom it has not been built historically,â he told the San JosÃ© Spotlight.
Hilaria Bauer, superintendent of the Alum Rock Union school district, is in favor of Newsom’s announcement. However, she stressed the need for a clear message.
âI understand the health reasons, this can be easily determined by a doctor. I also understand religious reasons which can also be easily confirmed by the faith of the family, âsaid Bauer. âBut I don’t know how the personal belief will be taken into account and followed. These are the kinds of mandates that confuse people and challenge our systems. “
Relative Stephanie Ladisky said the personal exemption should not cover political leanings.
“Your personal political opinion should not be taken into account in whether or not you get the vaccine,” she said. âIf you live in a society where your actions can hurt other people, especially vulnerable people who cannot get vaccinated, you have to be responsible. Everyone has come together to get rid of polio. This is what it should be too.
Although Ladisky worries about unvaccinated students sitting near others in the classroom, she doesn’t think it’s fair to make them miss the in-person learning. Instead, she suggested that unvaccinated students be grouped into cohorts.
His son Connor, a student at Santa Teresa High School, said he would feel more comfortable knowing that all students and teachers are vaccinated.
âUnless you can’t take the vaccine for medical reasons, you really have no excuse,â he said. âIt’s not fair to everyone, and to those with underlying illnesses like cancer that make them immunocompromised. It’s not fair to them that you are hosting something that can basically shut them down. Get vaccinated.
Contact Lorraine Gabbert at [emailÂ protected]