Santa Barbara Unified School Board Votes for COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate

Santa Barbara Unified School Board Votes for COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate title=
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Source: Santa Barbara Unified School District

At a special board meeting on Thursday, September 23, 2021, the Santa Barbara Unified School District Board of Education voted unanimously to require all district employees to be vaccinated against COVID. The board voted to amend an earlier version of Resolution No. 2021/2022-09, removing the section that had allowed for the option of testing instead of vaccination. 

The policy calls for all employees to provide proof of vaccination. All unvaccinated employees must receive their first vaccination shot prior to October 1, 2021, and the second vaccination, if applicable, no later than November 1, 2021. Currently, about 88% of the district’s 1,673 regular staff are already vaccinated. Medical and religious exemptions will be considered.

The new policy is the first of its kind for any public, K-12 school district in Santa Barbara County. The Resolution states that “overwhelming scientific evidence has established that COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective, and have been authorized for use by the FDA and recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) … The overwhelming majority of infections are currently occurring in individuals who have not been vaccinated against COVID-19. There exists a health emergency that requires further action to safeguard students and staff against risks of infection, illness, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19. The Board has a responsibility to prevent the outbreak and spread of COVID-19 infections at SBUSD sites.”

Superintendent Hilda Maldonado voiced her support of the resolution, citing mounting concerns over the more highly contagious Delta Variant and its potential threat to children who are unable to be vaccinated. “As public education leaders, our unwavering responsibility is to the health and safety of children and staff. The availability of a vaccine that combats the virus - along with all other mitigation layers we have in place - will provide us with the highest protection available. For those who continue to hesitate or have doubts about being vaccinated, we are here to listen. We can provide counseling, we can provide one-to-one sessions so that you can learn more about the safety of the vaccine. We can help you through the process if you’re afraid of getting vaccinated. I understand how difficult this decision is for some.”

The School Board heard more than 70 public comments before coming to their unanimous vote of approval.

School Board President Kate Ford said she supports the policy, because “her heart and the data tells me that we must do more, and because it is my job as a school board member to do everything I can to ensure that the students and staff of our district are kept as safe as possible. The resolution is not a violation of a god given freedom; it IS a decision in the interest of the greater good. After all, that is why we now wear seatbelts, don’t smoke in public places, abide by speed limits, AND require numerous vaccinations in order for children to attend our schools. The greater good. And, I would never forgive myself if it ever happens that I could have done more to save any staff member or student from suffering or death. It’s not the easy thing, but it is the right thing to do.”

Board member Virginia Alvarez said the decision demonstrates “the collective responsibility that we have to protect one another.  Students belong at school in the safest learning environment as possible, and my duty as a Trustee is not to be popular, but to do what is within my power to protect our students, staff and community.”

Board member Wendy Sims-Moten said “This is about the health & safety of our students, and it’s about not going back to the not-too-distant past of distance learning where there was a lot of suffering, issues with mental health. We read all of those emails pleading to get students back to in-person learning. Now that we’re here, we need to do everything we can to maintain that.” 

Board member Rose Muñoz said that she took many perspectives into consideration, and felt that required vaccinations help to protect the most vulnerable children in the district; “Our students have the right to in-person learning in a safe setting.”

Board member Laura Capps added that “This vaccine policy is not about our rights as individuals but our collective rights as people, and our need to care for one another-- our students, our parents, our colleagues, our community.  As a mom, I am a fierce advocate for our children and too many of them, especially those who are too young to be vaccinated, are being exposed to this virus with unknown long term effects and bringing it home to the people they love.” 

Student Board Member Dawson Kelly also supports the new policy. “My Job is to advocate for the safety of my constituents, the almost 13,000 students of Santa Barbara Unified. After reading through the resolution multiple times and speaking with students I represent, I do believe that this resolution is backed up with enough scientific evidence and data that supports the safety of the staff affected. I hope that despite differing views within the public, we can all reach compromises in order to achieve unity.”

Joyce Adriansen, President of the Santa Barbara Teachers Association, said prior to Thursday’s meeting, she conducted a survey of teachers on the Resolution, and that of those who responded, about 78% said they were in support. Adriansen said that on a personal note, she applauded the board for “Doing everything you can to keep our students safe and in school.”

The Resolution received letters of support from other local leaders and medical experts, including the following:


American Academy of Pediatrics Support SBUSD COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate

Source: American Academy of Pediatrics - California Chapter 2

Pediatricians applaud all school districts who have instituted vaccine mandates for staff and strongly support Santa Barbara Unified School District’s proposed resolution No. 2021/2022-09, which would ensure that in the 2021/2022 school year, all Certified and Classified staff will be required to be vaccinated.

SBUSD’s proposed staff vaccine mandate is rooted in the scientific evidence that vaccines are safe, effective, and play an imperative role in protecting children from COVID-19. With the recent rise in the delta variant, COVID-19 cases have dramatically risen among the overall population in Santa Barbara County (https://www.latimes.com/projects/california-coronaviruscases-tracking-outbreak/santa-barbara-county/#trends) and among the pediatric population (https://www.aappublications.org/news/2021/09/03/covid-delta-variant-children-hospitalizations090321). School based vaccination mandates are imperative for limiting the spread of COVID and ensuring the safety of children.

Resolution No. 2021/2022-09 is a crucial step in ensuring that Santa Barbara County children continue to have access to in-person learning.

“We need to ensure that all children have access to safe in-person learning,” says Dr. Karinne Van Groningen, pediatrician and Legislative and Policy Analyst for Southern California Chapter 2 of the American Academy of Pediatrics, “SBUSD’s staff vaccine mandate is critical in making this happen.”

The Southern California Chapter 2 of the American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 1,500 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists, and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety, and well-being of infants, children, adolescents, and young adults. 

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Voice of Reason Sep 24, 2021 11:03 AM
Santa Barbara Unified School Board Votes for COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate

SBCounty, see the FDA reviewed all the data, and determined the (small) risks associated with this new vaccine wasn't worth the nominal benefit is provides young children as Covid isn't the same risk to them as it is to adults. Fact: they have about the same risk as a fully vaccinated 30 year old. The Pfizer study showing it was safe for young kids only studied 2,200 kids, for mere months! I'm sorry but I need a much more robust , long-term study before I inject anything into my kids and they have all their other shots. Everyone hear calling for vaccine mandates are you aware the White House, members of Congress and their staff, Federal Judges, the CDC, and the FDA, are all exempt from the vaccine mandate? And you want to force this on kids? The director of the CDC went against her own panels determination and is now recommending booster shorts for healthy young adults. That's not science! Fear should not guide us, but real hard data, and the current data simply doesn't justify a mandate for children, even though your fear might, and I read a lot of misplaced fear on this site.

Chip of SB Sep 24, 2021 10:10 AM
Santa Barbara Unified School Board Votes for COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate

It will be interesting to see how these new powers of compulsion are used in the future. I suspect booster shots will be the next mandate, but what comes after that? I expect additional mandates to follow in the name of public health. Perhaps we could finally put a stop to the public health scourge caused by smoking, or utilize this powerful tool to compel people to maintain a healthy body weight. These steps would save countless lives and billions of taxpayer dollars in health care costs. What began as a humble paper card will soon evolve into a far more sophisticated public health passport. In order to be allowed to travel, get a job, or enter a store, everyone will be required to keep their “health pass” clear and up to date.

Chip of SB Sep 24, 2021 10:39 AM
Santa Barbara Unified School Board Votes for COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate

Here is a fascinating analysis prepared by the aclu that addressed civil rights in a pandemic. I think this brings up a lot of interesting points that we should consider. https://www.aclu.org/sites/default/files/pdfs/privacy/pemic_report.pdf

Byzantium Sep 24, 2021 10:29 AM
Santa Barbara Unified School Board Votes for COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate

Smoking dope will have to be replaced with edibles only, as the next universal health mandate. Anyone with BMI over 30 will need to pay extra health care premiums and stay completely out of public contact, since they are now proven to be high risk for "covid". We can no longer afford the obesity privilege.

a-1632504169 Sep 24, 2021 10:22 AM
Santa Barbara Unified School Board Votes for COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate

The fallacy with your continued posting of this nonsense is that smoking (when away from others) and obesity do not threaten the health of those around you. Just as you are free to be a complete imbecile unless you choose to drink and drive.

sacjon Sep 24, 2021 09:32 AM
Santa Barbara Unified School Board Votes for COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate

So, no vax, no job then? I support this in jobs where people are actually in the office or facing the public, but I do draw the line at some companies' policies requiring those who work 100% remotely to get the vaccine. I am 100% pro vax, but if someone is working from home and never needs to set foot in an office or face the public, they should be able to keep their jobs without being vaxxed. It's their problem if they want to join the ranks of the dying unvaxxed, but they should be able to keep their jobs while doing so.

Voice of Reason Sep 24, 2021 01:51 PM
Santa Barbara Unified School Board Votes for COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate

Chevy, what do you considered an unbiased and legitimate news source? I lean towards the BBC but is there even an unbiased news source in the US? Would love to read from a single source rather than multiple sources in order to get a more complete and accurate picture of what's going on.

Chevy67 Sep 24, 2021 01:42 PM
Santa Barbara Unified School Board Votes for COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate

Way to stir the pot Chippy. If you read the entire article (which, the Daily Mail? Not exactly known for being unbiased or a legitimate news source) there are several things that stand out. This is a small chapter that the national BLM movement said they do not support because it doesn't align with their values and many people spoke out against this extremely small "protest." So Chipster, just another swing and a miss at you interjecting race highlighting your own discriminatory and racist leanings.

sacjon Sep 24, 2021 11:52 AM
Santa Barbara Unified School Board Votes for COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate

BOSCO - it doesn't. It all stems from my original comment at 9:32 ("I support this in jobs where people are actually in the office or facing the public, but I do draw the line at some companies' policies requiring those who work 100% remotely to get the vaccine.") that was just a "by the way" kind of thing. Of course, it was misinterpreted in relation to the SBUSD policy and then unraveled from there....

bosco Sep 24, 2021 11:39 AM
Santa Barbara Unified School Board Votes for COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate

Where does it say that 100% remote workers will fall under the requirement? You might be reaching for something that isn't there. Currently the Federal OSHA mandate being directed by Biden, while not yet written, is expected to exclude remote workers.

Chip of SB Sep 24, 2021 11:37 AM
Santa Barbara Unified School Board Votes for COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate

And to bring it full circle, here is an article about a BLM protest against vaccination requirements, yes you read that correctly. This is the intersection of BLM and vaccine mandates and it emphasizes the public health need for implicit bias training. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10024955/Co-founder-BLM-New-York-threatens-uprising-citys-racist-vaccine-mandates.html

sacjon Sep 24, 2021 10:50 AM
Santa Barbara Unified School Board Votes for COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate

10:33 - Wrong on both counts. 1) I am 100% pro-vax and fully vaccinated. I have commented ENDLESSLY on here about my pro vaccine point of view. This is just where I think it's a little much. 2) You completely missed my point. I'm not saying people shouldn't get vaxxed or even that they shouldn't be forced to (they should). I am ONLY saying that, when you work 100% remote, your employer should not make you choose between getting vaxed (since you will never interact with other employees or the public) and losing your job.

I am not even saying I object to this, just raising the question as to: Should an employer have than much power over your personal life? If you don't come into the office or meet with customers, how you live while at your desk at home 100% of the time, is your personal life.

Chip of SB Sep 24, 2021 10:31 AM
Santa Barbara Unified School Board Votes for COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate

Covid is not the only public health threat. In Los Angeles, all city employees are mandated to have implicit bias training. This is a great step forward. Unless someone never leaves their residence, lives alone, and gets everything through contact free delivery they should undergo similar training. Vaccination is just one facet of public health, and with our new approach we can mandate compliance with a wide range of requirements to achieve a healthier, safer, and more equitable society. https://www.lamayor.org/mayor-garcetti-announces-mandatory-implicit-bias-training-city-employees

sacjon Sep 24, 2021 10:29 AM
Santa Barbara Unified School Board Votes for COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate

10:18 - Well, doesn't matter if they live alone, etc. None of that is the employer's business, unless the employee brings it into the office/public. I'm very very against employers overreaching their scope, like requiring drug tests for office jobs, etc. The employer shouldn't be able to dictate anything other than what affects other employees and the customers or public.

sacjon Sep 24, 2021 10:13 AM
Santa Barbara Unified School Board Votes for COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate

9:45 - yes, exactly. Anyone who interacts with others must get the vax or find a new job. I just don't necessarily think those who never once interacts (aside from virtual/phone) with co-workers, clients/customers or the public should be forced to choose between their job and the vaccine.

SantaBarbaraObserver Sep 24, 2021 09:53 AM
Santa Barbara Unified School Board Votes for COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate

Not with employer based health insurance. The majority of costs for insurance are paid by the company and if they do not want to put themselves at risk, or expose themselves to higher costs, then the employee does indeed have a choice. Get the vaccine or lose their job and their health insurance.

bosco Sep 24, 2021 09:24 AM
Santa Barbara Unified School Board Votes for COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate

Fully support the idea behind this. However, it does raise some concerns with an already short staffed district. We've heard reputedly from our Principle that they are struggling to fill open positions. I can't help but think this will make the staffing situation worse.

letmego Sep 24, 2021 10:10 AM
Santa Barbara Unified School Board Votes for COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate

I'm actually pretty surprised they made this decision. I don't necessarily disagree with it (they still have medical and religious exemptions allowed). They could always hit you in the wallet - continue to allow testing, but if you test positive you take leave without pay.

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