Monterey Co. parents join vaccine protest

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Now that California schools are open, new controversies are emerging, including warrants for COVID-19 vaccines and the wearing of masks.

In September, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that in order to attend public, private, or charter schools in person, kindergarten to grade 12 students in California will need to be vaccinated against COVID-19 after full approval of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the vaccine in their age group.

Most medical experts have found the vaccine to be safe and effective. Most parents have chosen to keep their students in classrooms.

In protest against vaccination warrants to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, parents across the state withdrew their students on Monday. Some of these parents have gone so far as to withdraw their students from the public school system by opting for home schooling.

The organizers of School Walkout 2021 claim to be a small group of educators and healthcare workers who want to prevent educators from leaving or leaving California in response to vaccination warrants.

In Sacramento, a demonstration called “Our Children, Our Choice” took place Monday morning in front of the State Capitol. Over 1,000 people responded to the event on Facebook.

It is not known how many local parents are involved.

A parent in Salinas made the decision to remove their children from public school following Newsom’s announcement. The parent and the North Monterey County District employee requested to remain anonymous due to her job security.

“Seeing how things are going now, for me it seemed like a good decision to take my children out of public school and put them safe at home,” she said.

A parent’s fight for autonomy

For Vanessa Madrid, a health worker from Monterey County, whose children have had adverse reactions to vaccines in previous years, the walkout represents a struggle for independence.

“Everyone is a guinea pig,” Madrid said. “We see children wearing masks. We see them isolated. We see them sitting 6 feet apart, unable to enjoy the company of their friends, to hug each other, to play, while they are at school. “

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says COVID-19 vaccines can help prevent new variants from emerging. In addition, research has shown that high vaccination coverage in a population reduces the spread of the virus and helps prevent the emergence of new variants. It has also dramatically reduced hospitalizations and deaths among those vaccinated.

The CDC recommends that anyone aged 12 and over get the vaccine. Emergency approval for young children is expected later this month.

As the CDC urges vaccinations, parents like Madrid believe the government should not have control over their children’s bodies.

“Our kids have been a great science experiment, and I don’t agree with that. I would never subject my kids to what I call this, abuse,” she said. “It is abuse when you restrict a child’s right to breathe and also when you inject foreign substances which are actually toxins into a child’s body without knowing the repercussions.”

A list of the indigent and possible side effects of the three approved COVID-19 vaccines is available on the CDC’s website.

The bet

School administrators in Monterey County have discouraged parents from preventing their students from attending classes.

“Any day lost in in-person learning is a gamble, because we don’t know the trajectory of this virus and whether or not we’ll have to go back to distance learning,” said Vanessa Robinson, president and fifth of the Greenfield Teachers Association. – grade teacher at the Greenfield Union school district. “Each day in person, honestly, started to feel like a blessed opportunity.”

Robinson also expressed concern for the health and safety of students and parents attending the rallies.

“If these students participate in gatherings, which I am sure will include unmasked and unvaccinated people, they endanger other students, their families and their educators upon their return to campus,” he said. she declared. “Honestly, it’s not a very well thought out walkout. ”

The CDC has repeatedly stated that wearing masks and social distancing are very effective in slowing the spread of COVID-19.

Hundreds of people gathered on Monday, October 18, 2021 to protest against covid vaccination warrants at the Riverfront Park Amphitheater in Redding.

Fleeing public school

Madrid, along with several other local parents, have hired teachers to create a smaller school setting in a private residence for their children.

“The school district is going to see a massive number of absentees in Monterey County,” Madrid said. “We are fed up with it. Our goal is to encourage parents to create their own learning communities and not be afraid of government repercussions. They can’t do anything. We have qualified teachers.

According to EdSource, the state uses a school district’s Average Daily Attendance (ADA) to determine its funding. The more absences a district has overall, the more funding it loses – absences don’t necessarily hurt the state but hurt the district.

“We hope that if enough parents come out, our school board and our state’s education ministry will feel a big blow in their pocket,” Madrid said.

Monterey County District employee and parent upholds her decision to remove her children from the public school system.

“I’m glad I took my kids out of public school because now I see what the governor of California has done with the K-12 immunization warrants,” she said. “I don’t think I made the wrong decision.”

Ahead of the planned walkout, California is already facing a drop in public school enrollment. The California Department of Education reported that enrollments for the 2021 school year have declined significantly from 6,163,001 in 2019-2020 to 6,002,523 in 2020-2021.

Grandparents Jeff and Kim Misner attend Monday's rally against vaccination warrants with their son Justin Misner, center, at the Riverfront Park Amphitheater in Redding.

The drop is over 160,000 students compared to the previous year. The largest declines in enrollment were recorded in Kindergarten and Grade 6.

“The purpose of the walkout is to say that we oppose these mandates and that my child is not coming today because (the district) is not expressing our concerns,” said Madrid. “With each child who is not in class, we know that it hurts the pocket of the neighborhood. If we can’t get their attention with the money, I strongly suggest that all parents actually remove their children from school and homeschooling.

The Salinas Union High School District (SUHSD) argued in a press release that going out on Monday would only result in an additional loss of learning for students who miss class. Superintendent Dan Burns stressed that the district has no control over immunization mandates and that disrupting the school routine of students is a disservice.

“We understand that families and students can have strong emotions and questions about COVID-19 safety measures, including vaccine and testing requirements,” the district statement said. “However, keeping the kids home from school to protest a COVID-19 vaccine requirement announced by Governor Gavin Newsom, as some social media posts suggest, would only waste a lot of time. learning for our students. The funding of our school will not be impacted by absences. But our children will be.

Robinson echoed SUHSD’s stat and urged parents to consider the long-term implications of removing children from public school.

“I understand that we are all very afraid of changes and new mandates. Short-lived decisions can catch us off guard. But when we accept that our actions today decide the events of tomorrow, they might begin to understand how these difficult decisions will prepare us for success in the future, ”she said. “Success for the future, which means uninterrupted learning for all students, barrier-free learning environments for all students, as well as stable and cohesive classroom instruction from highly qualified and well-trained educators. health. All of these scenarios are worth the tough decisions made today. ”

Hundreds of people gathered on Monday, October 18, 2021 to protest against covid vaccination warrants at the Riverfront Park Amphitheater in Redding.

David Rodriguez is the educational reporter and staff photographer at The Salinas Californian. For any advice or story ideas, you can email him at [email protected] Subscribe to support local journalism.


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