COVID Vaccine mandate to take effect in Poway

Ben Truong, Staff Writer

Recently, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced that COVID-19 vaccines would be mandated for all California students attending public or private in-person schools. The mandate comes after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) fully approved the vaccine for children 12 years and older. 

The proposed mandate is supposed to take place in either January or July 2022, but those dates are not fully set in stone. “We don’t know when the vaccine mandate will take place. It’s really up to the governor and his office to dictate. He has identified once it’s been cleared that it will probably start to take effect in January,” Principal Richard Nash said.

“I’m guessing July 2022. How it will be implemented, masks, quarantines, enforcement, and such is based on information we receive from the County Of San Diego Health And Human Services Agency,” Health Technician Brett Williams said. 

Many agencies determine the rules around regulating issues relating to COVID and a lot of that decision making is still being discussed. “The organizations that set policy for us are the CDC, OSHA, and the California State Department of Public Health and they don’t always work together,” Human Biology teacher Brian Fitzgerald said. 

How the mandate will be carried out is not completely known at this time. However, other existing vaccine mandates for attending public schools give a blueprint for the implementation of the COVID vaccine mandate. 

“I mean I think we can use some of the pieces we’ve seen in recent vaccinations. I’m sure we all remember the 7th grade TDAP excursion quite a few years ago. When that rolled in there was a time frame in which there was an expectation for folks to get it done. And then if it’s not done then the school’s expected to follow up with the family. Eventually leading to exclusionary practices for kids keeping them out of school,” Nash said.

 More clarification around protocols will come in the next few months as the state finalizes decisions. “I anticipate that we’ll probably in the next couple months get some clarification around what the mandate really means and if or what exemptions might exist for students and their families from that space,” Nash said.

There will likely be exceptions for medical conditions or religious beliefs as well. “First and foremost, there are side effects with every vaccine and some of those side effects could directly infringe other health issues. There’s a wide variety of medical issues that keep people from getting the vaccine. There’s also religious belief. There are some folks that don’t believe vaccination should exist at all,” Nash said.

There has also been much concern over the vaccine and lots of tension has arisen as a result. “And there are super geopolitical issues that surround this as well. The trust of whether the vaccine has been fully vetted, whether it’s been experienced enough by the population that the individual patient is looking at. I think all those things play into whether or not somebody will or will not get the vaccine. I think the state has to decide what that looks like, and where it fits. They’ve done it a few other times but this one has got a little bit more of a geopolitical field to it than other vaccinations have,” Nash said. 

Even once the mask mandate is in place, students and staff will most likely have to remain wearing masks for the time being. “It’s controlled by the state, so we’ll probably have to continue to wear masks. I think right now we know that in San Diego we have a high population of those who are vaccinated. Almost at a herd immunity level. And so I think that the state has to operate a space for safety for everybody and not for individualist bases. What I do know is our district and our local folks are really dedicated to relieving the practice of wearing masks when it’s safe to do so or when it’s identified that it is safe to do so,” Nash said.