Since more than half of students are either unvaccinated or unable to prove otherwise, the West Contra unified school district will give students more time to receive the full dose, as required by its COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
The school board unanimously decided that it will oversee several other counties in the state, including Oakland Unified, which also renewed their vaccination mandates for similar reasons.
Only about 44% of the more than 12,000 West Contra Costa eligible students have provided proof that they are fully vaccinated. according to the county, which extended the deadline from Jan 3 to Feb 18.
Of the students who have not yet completed the mandate, the majority did not respond to the district form. Of those vaccinated, about 294 students, or 2.4% of eligible students, said they were partially vaccinated, 147 said they plan to receive doses, and 52 indicated they were not interested, according to the district. in vaccinations.
Those who fail to submit evidence in time must be placed on the district’s virtual learning program, which already has a 365 student waiting list.
Because vaccination rates are so low, school board members have expressed concern that many students will also be unable to meet later deadlines.
“There is no leverage, we could still be literally in the same place,” said Superintendent Kenneth “Chris” Hirst.
But with more messages and a “sense of urgency,” Hirst added, “I hope we’re closer or done (by then).”
The problem is not limited to West Contra Costa Unified, which includes schools in Richmond, El Cerrito, San Pablo, Pinole and Hercules. Earlier this month, Oakland Unified also pushed the deadline to February, and earlier this week, Los Angeles Unified pushed back the delay to next fall.
California said in October that all students 12 and older must be fully vaccinated by July 2022, although school districts may require earlier dates.
Vaccination rates among West Contra Costa students lag behind most other counties, including 60% Oakland Unified earlier this month and 87% Los Angeles Unified this week.
West Contra Costa officials have begun offering incentives to give out laptops and $ 500 gift cards to vaccinated students. According to the district, about 800 additional students have submitted evidence of vaccinations in the past four days after the raffle was announced.
Meanwhile, two student trustees from the student council wrote personal requests to their peers for injections. The district sent out a letter to all students earlier this month.
“What made me get vaccinated was the realization that all my friends got it, and I could return to life with less fear if I did the same,” wrote the student’s guardian Justin Trujillo, a high school graduate. Pinall Valley Schools. …
School officials at a meeting on Wednesday attributed the low response rate to their vaccination questionnaire in part due to the district’s reporting system, which prevents students from easily viewing their status online.
Trustee Jamela Smith-Folds foresaw the problem when the board approved the vaccination mandate in October, saying the county did not have enough resources to promote vaccinations at the time.
“We need to be very clear about our throughput and throughput,” Smith-Folds said on Wednesday. “What we should have done before was to have different access points to education (for unvaccinated students). This is what we needed to think about before turning the key and reopening the school doors. ”
In voting to extend the deadline, Smith Folds made it clear that “we have to work as if we are not going to meet the deadline and everything that involves non-meeting the deadline.”
West Contra Costa Unified was set to become the first Gulf area mandated in October, but has pulled back over fears of disgruntled parents suing it.
Weeks after Oakland and several other school districts plummeted forward, the district followed suit, facing stiff opposition from some parents, prompting then-board president Mr. courage to defend what is. right.”