Santa Barbara School Boardmembers Push Mandatory COVID Vaccine

Board Holding Emergency Meeting Thursday to Vote on Vaccine and Testing Requirements

From the dais left: Boardmember Virginia Alvarez, Boardmember Laura Capps, Board Member Rose Muñoz, Board President Kate Ford, and Superintendent Hilda Maldonado. | Credit: Courtesy

If an emergency measure now being pushed by two members of the Santa Barbara Unified School Board and Superintendent Hilda Maldonado prove persuasive, all teachers and district employees will have to show proof of vaccination — or submit to regular testing for COVID — when schools open August 17. 

Boardmembers Laura Capps and Kate Ford issued an op-ed call-to-action to this end Tuesday. Also signing the media notice—though not the op-ed—was Maldonado. Capps and Ford noted that only 65 percent of district teachers and staff have said they were vaccinated; that information was confirmed either by self-reporting or by confidentially showing proof of vaccination cards to district nurses. 

“That percentage is far from where we should be,” Ford and Capps declared, “especially for staff members who are interacting with young children who can’t yet be vaccinated. Full vaccination provides the safety our schools need.” 

To that end, the school board is holding an emergency meeting this Thursday, August 5, at 2 p.m. to vote on a vaccine requirement. If it passes, the measure would be effective immediately. 

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“Our kids have lost too much already,” Capps and Ford wrote. “We owe it to them to and our school staff to beat this pandemic once and for all.”

Polio, they noted, once disabled 35,000 people a year, paralyzing 15,000. That disease was wiped out, they added, in 1979 “not by herd immunity but by a successful vaccination mandate.” 

How this plays with the unions representing teachers and other district employees has yet to be seen. Calls to the new head of the teachers’ union went unreturned by deadline, but Paul Rooney, head of the California School Employees Association Chapter 37, was dubious in the extreme. Rooney made it clear his union has yet to take any position, but he personally thought such mandates were oppressive and without scientific foundation. 

“It’s a violation of people’s inalienable rights,” he stated. “And it’s misleading as to what the research actually shows. But people watch too much TV and are fed too many lies.” Rooney said. He described COVID as an infection on par with the flu, adding that he himself had not had a flu shot since 1967.

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