San Diego Unified Webinar Offers Answers on School District COVID-19 Vaccination Requirement

Two days after the San Diego Unified School District board of directors voted unanimously to require full COVID-19 vaccination for all staff and students 16 and older, the district has hosted a webinar on September 30 to present more details on the mandate.

The event took place the day before Governor Gavin Newsom announced that California would be the first state in the country to require all eligible public and private school staff and students to be vaccinated once the Food and Drug is released. United States administration will have given full vaccine approval for their age group.

A co-presenter of the webinar was Californians for Safe Schools, a statewide parent group established as San Diegans for Safe Schools by La Jolla parent Dawniel Stewart and fellow SDUSD parent and associate professor. of Psychiatry at UC San Diego Lisa Delano-Wood. The group has called for more COVID security measures in San Diego Unified.

The event also touched on questions Stewart gathered from parents regarding the district’s other COVID-19 policies.

As part of the vaccination mandate at San Diego Unified, which operates five public schools in La Jolla, staff and students aged 16 and over must be vaccinated against COVID-19 by Monday, December 20, so that they can get full immunity by Jan. 4, said Susan Barndollar, executive director of nursing and welfare for the district.

Vaccination will be mandatory to attend school in person. Those who do not comply will have to take distance learning through independent study.

Students under the age of 16 will be required to regularly test for the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. They, too, should get the vaccine once the FDA has fully approved a vaccine for their age group.

Currently, the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine is fully approved only for people 16 years of age and older. It has emergency authorization for children aged 12 to 15.

During the webinar, SDUSD Board Chairman Richard Barrera said, “It is important that everyone understands that the vaccine requirement will apply at some point for ages 12 and up. “. He said the district would revisit the matter at its board meeting on Tuesday, October 26.

Barndollar said families can make an appointment for vaccination at The district also operates vaccination clinics at various sites. Students under the age of 18 must have parental permission to be vaccinated.

District doctor Dr Howard Taras said the vaccination mandate would also apply to contractors, volunteers and other campus visitors who are not employed by the district.

Barrera said he was concerned parents would not have clear information about the requirement.

“We believe… that the vast majority of parents, once they understand why a vaccine requirement is in place and why this is the best strategy for not only the safety of their own children but that of everyone… will choose the vaccine option, ”he said.

Barndollar said district-assessed medical exemptions will be allowed and students who need more time to get vaccinated, such as the homeless, recent refugees, military families or host families , will be entitled to “conditional entry” to schools for up to 30 days after the December 20 deadline.

Barrera said students would not get exemptions from the vaccine based on religious or personal beliefs because the state does not allow such exemptions for other mandatory vaccines.

“There is no option in California for personal belief or religious exemption,” he said, “and we think there is a good reason for that. Vaccine requirements are based on health and safety.

Under federal law, however, the district must allow religious exemptions for staff.

Barndollar said coronavirus testing is currently mandatory for unvaccinated staff members and high school athletes, with testing offered weekly at all school sites. It is optional for other staff and students.

Test results and other district coronavirus data are often updated and posted on dashboard.

Contact tracing and notifications of positive cases follow guidelines from the San Diego County Office of Education, which also set quarantine times and conditions for return to school, Barndollar said.

A campus-wide “blanket notification” is sent once a positive case is identified at a school, she said.

Close contacts, which Barndollar says “are defined as within six feet of that infected person for more than 15 minutes, with or without a mask,” are notified separately. ??

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