After-Action Report from SB School Board Leaders Who Pushed Through New Tough Mandate

By Jerry Roberts of Newsmakers

The morning after, school board leaders Kate Ford and Laura Capps expressed calm certainty about pushing through a controversial, toughened Covid vaccine mandate for Santa Barbara Unified teachers and workers. Twelve hours earlier, they were denounced as “tyrants,” “.communists” and “domestic enemies of the U.S,” — not to mention violators of the “Nuremberg Codes” – for doing so.

“The job is to be able to take the incoming,” said Capps who, with board president Ford, checked in to discuss the new policy, and the extended and heated public comment about it at the trustees meeting on Thursday night.
The board unanimously approved the policy, which beefs up an earlier vaccine requirement for SBUSD employees, all of whom now must be fully immunized by Nov. 1. Previously, teachers and others had a choice of getting the shots, or of being tested weekly; the new resolution, passed after nearly three hours of public comment from more than 50 speakers, no longer allows testing to replace receipt of the vaccine.
The mandate allows exceptions for health risks, and religious beliefs.
Although the measure is limited to adults, the two board members told Newsmakers they expect to come forward with another change — likely to be even more controversial — that would require all students 12 and older to be vaccinated. “Probably within about six weeks,” said Ford, when asked about the timing for such a proposal.
Amid the spike in Covid cases due to the highly transmissible Delta variant, the two were spurred by a small but significant outbreak at an unidentified elementary school: an unvaccinated teacher is believed to have infected three of their students with the virus.

“The carrots haven’t been working,” Capps said of vaccine policies that have encouraged, but not required, adults working for the district to get the shots. “This is a pandemic…a public health crisis,” in which the most, and most severe, cases now are among the unvaccinated, she added.

Led by the two board members, the Santa Barbara school district has moved faster and further in imposing tough regulations on vaccines than any other local public agency; the county supervisors have passed an optional, vaccine-or-test policy, while the city of Santa Barbara has done nothing. Mayor Cathy Murillo said negotiations are continuing with City Hall unions.
Although the two shrugged off the passionate, and sometimes personal, attacks leveled at them over pandemic policies — several speakers on Thursday night compared them and other board members to Nazi doctors doing sadistic experiments on concentration camp prisoners — the anger and volatile rhetoric among vaccine opponents locally matches what is happening across the nation, as some school board members, who generally work for little or no pay, are quitting or not running, saying that the acrimony, insults and personal risks are not worth the effort.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Ford, who has worked for decades as a teacher, principal, superintendent and, now, board member, in Santa Barbara and other districts in California.
Check out our conversation with Kate Ford and Laura Capps via YouTube below, or by clicking through this link. The audio version is here.


Written by Jerry Roberts

“Newsmakers” is a multimedia journalism platform that focuses on politics, media and public affairs in Santa Barbara. Learn more at

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  1. Too much “power” in two people. Go ahead Capps/Ford, push it forever – we’re watching you and we won’t forget. Mandates for kids are a BAD BAD IDEA. Why you ask?
    The answer is multifold. They have the absolute LOWEST risk for Covid caused deaths and serious illness, they have been shown NOT to be massive spreaders of disease, and it’s been documented (scientific journals, not social media bs) that some have had very serious complications (myocarditis) following the COVID vaccination. A lot of parents know this.
    Go ahead Capps-Ford, stick your neck out where it doesn’t belong and see what happens. #stayinyourlane

  2. A mandate was the right call. We should be requiring mandatory vacinations for students ASAP. There should not be any religious exemption and medical exemptions should only be permitted for documented issues and waived after a full review by the public health department. I am grateful that the board members took this action and want other agencies to make similar mandates for employees ASAP.

  3. There are a significant number of families who will not allow their children to be vaccinated under any circumstances. These families will pull their children out of public school or even
    move out of state if necessary because they feel so strongly about the vaccine. K-12 schools get something on the order of $10-20k per student per year, so let’s call it $15k. If we assume a typical teacher in our community is paid $80k per year, how many kids being pulled from a public school results in a teacher being laid off? Similarly, employers throughout the state will commence firing employees who refuse the vaccine over the coming months. Here again, many people would give up their job and even their home in california before consenting to vaccination. It will be interesting to see how many employees are fired and/or leave the state in the next few months and what disruptions may occur as a result.

  4. SBUSD was already losing enrollments before this covid thing. Plus you need to factor the cost to the taxpayers for each government employee not just their take home pay, since we also pay for their benefits and pensions. That total amount is also paid by the state per pupil reimbursement formula. Fewer students, less reimbursement less income to cover ever increasing pay, perks and pensions. There is a bottom line to all of this and unfortunately we have a fiscally ignorant group of school board members running things right now They put prices on things that are impossible to put values on, while ignoring the real daily costs of the education industry that must be met by contractual terms.

  5. The high risk group of people & more are protected by the vax.
    So why is there such a forceful push to make those that choose not get to get jabbed?
    The flu has killed over twice as many kids than Covid has per CDC.
    Per CDC kids have a 100% survival rate.
    So why are you all attacking children?
    Yes attacking, forcing people to do something they don’t want to.
    It’s not for public safety. Look st the survival rates per CDC Kids 100%. Under 65, 99.80%.
    And again those at risk are protected. So no need to force people.

  6. VOR, I will throw around whatever words I like however I like. I don’t feel any need to satisfy you or anyone else on Edhat. I said what I said–Anti-Vaxxers are a threat. They also love to gobble up conspiracy theories about government control. Keep yammering.

  7. I have 2 legit ques:
    I always heard children were massive
    petrie-dishes of germs..
    Why is Covid different?
    And, what religious teaching is there re injections…remembering, even the Pope, Native Chiefs etc, have gotten them at some time?

  8. This is a public school operating in a pandemic. A mandate for students to be vaccinated is needed ASAP. If parents want to home school, move, or place their children in a private school that allows unvaccinated student they can do so. If they want the government to pay for schooling their kids here they need to be vaccinated. Period. This anti-vaccine, freedom, my body ideology, and conspiracy theory BS needs to end, or we will be worse off when a new and deadlier variant emerges because of these anti-vaccine proponents.

  9. Toddlers who do t know how to wash their hands are germ bags.
    By age 12 kids know proper hygiene. Especially after the last 18 months.
    The difference is the concerned adults & high risk are already vaccinated.
    Kids are not adversely affected by Covid per CDC.
    So what does vaccinating children or those who do not want it affect the vaccinated people?
    It does not, unless the vaccine is smoke & mirrors and does not work.
    If it works why would anyone cafe shar the person next to them does?

  10. Duke & Ahchooo
    Can you list the link stating the 0.25% death rate for under 18 years of age. I couldn’t find that.
    Per CDC “ Most children with COVID-19 have mild symptoms or they may have no symptoms at all (“asymptomatic”)”
    Again, if the Vax works & those that are high risk or are concerned are protected why are they forcing the vaccines on those that do t want it?
    No one has answered that question.

  11. For those among us still in denial about the pandemic or splitting hairs over abstract percentages I recommend the HermanCainAward page on Reddit. Disease is a distant prospect for most people until it affects them or their loved ones. I knew a single parent, a proud Facebook anti-Fauci warrior, who just left his kid an orphan to own the libs. Personal freedom? More like disgusting, selfish ignorance. The debate over children being vaccinated is an even more disgusting variety. These same folks feigning concern for children are happy to defund education left and right. Don’t pretend you care, we know what kind of people you are by now.

  12. The right to be a Typhoid Mary and spread a highly infectious disease is not a freedom it’s a dereliction of duty and even potential homicide. Children unable to young to get the disease are pawns in their game and, as we are learning, could suffer life-long consequences. Those opposed to being vaccinated are not able to self-isolate with no interaction with others. Choosing to quit their jobs or move To Idaho or another state that agrees with them rather than be vaccinated is less expensive to California than to continue to be on the hook for them, their families and anyone they infect. We must not continue with anxiety for our children and a partial shut down because of the dangerous (and disproven) beliefs and actions of a few.

  13. Threatening? Only if you consider political demise as such. That’s what I’m talking about. Jeez. And I get all my vaccines. Totally believe in science. There isn’t good science to support giving kids this shot in my opinion. To be labeled by Alex as an “anti-vaxx conspiracy freak” perfectly demonstrates the knee jerk ignorant name calling that’s happening and is a huge part of the problem here.

  14. So vaccinated are not protected and are in fear of getting Covid? That is what you are saying. Basically the vaccine offers no comfort & you are still in fear.
    BTW vaccinated are capable of spreading the disease & carry the same viral load as unvaccinated per CDC.
    Children per CDC are not at risk. So much so that the CDC posts a 100% survival rate under age 12.
    So they are not “protecting” kids under 12.

  15. “These people?” Who are all “these people?” I suspect you are railing against conservatives, but what do you think about the considerable numbers of young far left people who skip the vaccine because they don’t think they’d get very sick if they get COVID and really don’t care if they spread it to those who would? And sorry, you don’t get to respond by labeling me a conservative anti vaxxer or some such. Cuz I’m not. But I like comments to be reasonable, logical, accurate and fair. Whether it fits anyone’s agenda or not.

  16. Ford and Capps closed down schools for a whole year against all reason and logic. All evidence pointed to schools HAVING to stay open. Yes get the vaccine, but don’t try and claim the high ground here, these folks showed no concern for kids for an entire year.

  17. Alex, they are not only a threat, they’re really, really, really dumb. But dont tell them. Their feelings will be hurt… and then they’ll call you bad names and claim they’re actually “super-duper” smart. Bigly smart! So instead, just do what their leaders do. Lie to them and steal their savings. Its the American way!

  18. Many schools stayed open… ours simply didn’t. The stats and data are overwhelming regarding the harm caused. Sure, A lot of kids did fine… a lot of others though didn’t. We opened bars and wineries and gyms… but closed schools. We had articles in the independent praising the various organizations opening their doors for kids to “safely” zoom school from…

  19. I am very much supportive of this mandate.
    Part of the untold story here is that that managers, especially in bureaucracies with big HR structures, are being hamstrung by the small percentage (~1/20?) of employees grasping at any excuse to remote work.
    … as in … “I’m not SURE the vaccine is safe, I’m not SURE the workplace is safe, and it’s my right to continue (not) working remotely for my full salary for as long as possible.” … …
    If you are, say, a school, having to re-org everything because a few pieces are out is a complete nightmare.These mandates give managers the leverage they need to align with what are health experts have been telling us for months. And get our systems running back safely, with full capacity, in person, again.
    Surely there are a tiny sliver of employees with legitimate concerns, but that bar needs to be set very high. It’s human nature to get away with as much as possible. For example, why are non-vaccination rates so high among police? The first ones vaccinated were the first ones sent back to real work! For once the schools, city, and state are getting a blunt policy right. Let’s get everyone vaccinated and continue to support each other in these very tough Covid times.

  20. AlexBlue: You do realize that it’s your people who are not vaccinated? They are certainly not “anti-vaxxers” as you like to refer to them as, rather these folks have a valid historical fear of government forcing things on them to their determent. So, your off-based theory of those who are not getting the jab is way off base. Like, waaaaaaaaaay off. A bit of advice as well: try kindness and love as an approach to those with whom you disagree…’ll win more “arguments” that way. Peace to you my good friend.

  21. Society should never placate to the lowest common denominator in any public policy decision. What you are missing in your dime store analysis BCakes is that the Vaccinated, the masked are far more Patriotic and caring towards their fellow American than the selfish, the naive, the willfully ignorant AntiVa and the fake zealots…who by “believing” in their own reality put the entire society at risk. Nothing is less patriotic than the actions and the acts of these people. They deserve the scorn and the blow-back. They should also know that its only going to get worse for them. A lot worse…

  22. SBO: All we can do is to take care of ourselves. If you are vaxxed, and I am vaxxed, then we’ve done our job. Apparently, approximately 45% of the US is NOT partially/fully vaccinated, and the vast majority of these people are not far-right, self-proclaimed patriots…quite the opposite. Everyone needs a “boogeyman” to blame. Take care of your own medical needs as you see fit, and stop/stop/stop worrying about others (like 150 million “others”). Once we do that, you can continue with your life…and your mask. May peace find you in these trying times and within your heart.

  23. Ahchooo – all world data (now and at that time) pointed to the desperate need for schools to stay open. Our school boards hid behind fear and in doing so did tangible harm. They cared… but they focused and cared in the completely wrong and harmful way. The data was there… it was just easier to stay closed till mandated to open. They showed no ability or leadership. Instead of opening They praised the various inferior and worse equipped institutions that were opening up for kids to go to during school hours to safely Zoom while they kept the safe and well equipped place shut. There is no name calling needed… their actions spoke louder than any words… they simply and completely failed.

  24. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that for every million doses given, there have been 67 cases of heart inflammation in boys 12 to 17 (nine in girls of that age group)
    Aug 14 (Reuters) – The number of children hospitalized with COVID-19 in the United States hit a record high of just over 1,900 on Saturday, as hospitals across the South were stretched to capacity fighting outbreaks caused by the highly transmissible Delta variant.
    But according the freedumb people, getting the vaccine is riskier than not. Someone should explain risk/benefit to them.

  25. Duke, you really need to let it go. I realize that you don’t understand, but they were going on the best information they had at the time. Hindsight is 20/20. They were wrong back then, as it turns out that the Alpha variant wasn’t so easily spread. However, we didn’t have a vaccine.
    I’d also like to point out that hundreds of parents (a very large % of them) did not want school to open back then at all (a certain smaller % STILL feel that way). My own personal level of conservatism with this virus almost completely matched theirs. We should have opened in November, but when we didn’t – it was too late. There is nothing Capps nor Ford could have done after that, as our numbers were too high per the state rules. I saved a screen shot from the school board meeting on October 13. 43% of parents (myself included) voted to go back in November, but 57% voted to go back Jan 19 OR LATER OR NOT AT ALL (15%). We were NOT mandated to open in the spring when we opened, in fact. They chose to open and expanded to full time as soon as they could.
    You really need to give people credit for learning and changing. It happens. We collect more data, we re-evaluate the changing risks and rewards, and we make adjustments.
    Let. It. Go.

  26. They aren’t testing the ap check-in was a joke. Life goes on. If you have been vaccinated and school parent age, you are fine…so thank goodness we removed the charade of the ap check-in and aren’t inundating parents with paranoid emails.

  27. We were fine to open without a vaccine, as we saw with all the schools that open, as well as your own point that (and this was widely known then as well) there is less transmission in the school than the community at large. They went first to close and last to open…which obviously is the exact opposite of logic, reason, science and (of course) the needs of the kids. Sad…and no…you can’t try and make this a hindsight is easy issue…this was known and apparent…they were frozen and paralyzed with fear and took the easiest route for them…stay closed pretty much until forced open.

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