California Will Drop COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate for Students

California will end the COVID-19 state of emergency at the end of the month. According to EdSource, that will effectively end the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for eligible students, eliminating a controversial topic that has divided school communities for over a year.

“We continue to strongly recommend Covid-19 immunization for students and staff to keep everyone safer in the classroom,” the California Department of Public Health told EdSource. However, adding the COVID-19 vaccine to the list of required K-12 immunizations must be done by the Legislature, the department said. 

So, why no public announcement?

“Let’s wipe this whole Covid vaccination thing off the table,” said Lucerne Valley Unified Superintendent Peter Livingston. “Just say it. If it’s over, just say it.”

“We have kindergarten parents asking us about this, and we do not have a response since you have been silent on this,” Livingston said in a letter to the Governor. “Once again your actions (or lack thereof) places the burden of communication, implementation, and enforcement squarely on the shoulders of principals, teachers, staff, administrators, and school boards. These burdens erode the ability of LVUSD to focus on serving students and diminish our ability to foster outstanding educational outcomes.”

Proponents of a K-12 COVID vaccine mandate have been fighting an uphill battle from the outset. A bill that would have eliminated personal belief exemptions for the vaccine in schools was pulled by its author, Sen. Richard Pan (D-Sacramento), last year.  

Although adult vaccine rates are extremely high, they’ve been lagging in children. One of the biggest and most under-appreciated reasons is the inability of trusted pediatricians to deliver the immunizations at their offices.