RANCHO SANTA FE — The Rancho Santa Fe School District’s governing board last week passed a resolution urging Gov. Gavin Newsom to reconsider or rescind a statewide vaccine mandate the governor announced back in October.
The state’s vaccine mandate, the first of its kind in the country, will be required for in-person school attendance for all students attending public and private California schools. The order is expected to go into effect in July 2022, once the Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, fully approves the COVID vaccine for each age group.
Currently, only the Pfizer vaccine is fully approved for people 16 and older. The Pfizer vaccine also has emergency authorization for children ages 12 to 16.
The Rancho Santa Fe School District was one of the first public school districts in the county to reopen for full-time, in-person instruction in August 2020.
According to the resolution, “the district has demonstrated during the 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 school years that it is fully able to provide for a safe in-person learning environment for students during the COVID-19 public health emergency.”
“The governor’s vaccination mandate severely limits local school district control in deciding the best way to ensure all students access to in-person education and the board recognizes that many families who choose not to vaccinate their children will disenroll their children; given this likely result, the vaccination mandate interferes with a local school district’s ability to provide in-person for its students,” the resolution continues.
The resolution was brought forward on Dec. 16 by outgoing Board President Kali Kim, and passed unanimously, 4-0. Board Member Rose Rohatgi was not in attendance but sent a statement to the board that she also did not support the mandate.
“I’m pro-vaccine myself but I can support having it be the parent’s choice for their children,” said Board Member John Tree.
Newly-elected Board President Jee Manghani agreed, saying, “I believe every parent should have that choice for themselves and their children.”
According to the mandate, students who remain unvaccinated will have the option to attend online school full time, attend independent study programs or be homeschooled.
“Vaccines work,” Newsom said during the announcement back in October. “It’s why California leads the country in preventing school closures and has the lowest case rates. We encourage other states to follow our lead to keep our kids safe and prevent the spread of COVID-19.”
“Are there exemptions? Yes, well-established exemptions: for medical reasons, personal and/or religious beliefs,” Newsom continued.
The process remains unclear for students seeking medical or religious exemptions from the vaccine mandate, and whether or not a “personal beliefs” exemption will stay in place.
At the Dec. 16 district meeting, the board also selected Manghani as the new board president and Annette Ross to be the new vice president.