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

Santa Barbara Unified School Board Votes for COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate title=
SBUSD Administration Building on Santa Barbara Street (file photo)
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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 ( and among the pediatric population ( 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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letmego Sep 27, 2021 10:44 AM
Santa Barbara Unified School Board Votes for COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate

I think regular testing is useful. I like data. Data is useful. Like: the data from COVID testing at the schools has shown that the student infection rates are currently lower than the county infection rates. But the teacher/staff infection rates are actually slightly higher than the county infection rates. A few months of regular testing results can be helpful, useful data, when analyzed dispassionately.

dukemunson Sep 27, 2021 10:49 AM
Santa Barbara Unified School Board Votes for COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate

Letmego - You mean the same data that was there all of last year (that it's safer to keep schools open) that the school board ignored because it was easier remain closed? That data has been there since July of 2020...glad you are finally looking at it..

dukemunson Sep 27, 2021 11:04 AM
Santa Barbara Unified School Board Votes for COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate

That's simply not true. They had the showed (like it does now as you point out) that transmission is lower in the schools than in the community at large. They had that. They chose to ignore because it was the easier thing to do. Private schools opened and rich kid public schools. In Santa Barbara we celebrated the churches and community centers that opened up for kids to "safely" zoom school from. You recognize the insanity of that, right? We'll keep the facilities that are designed to safely school children closed but celebrate the hodge podge of facilities that opened to try and help those in desperate need. In GUSD that percentage that wanted to go back to school was 77%. Instead of seeing the data (which again, isn't hindsight, it was there) and seeing that every other country has realized that schools need to be last to close and first to open they stayed closed.

You are trying to be revisionist with the facts...which always a dangerous route to take. The school board was wrong...that was obvious then and now. These two shouldn't be congratulated...they failed...

letmego Sep 28, 2021 01:23 PM
Santa Barbara Unified School Board Votes for COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate

DUKE - the data available at the start of school, in say, August, was a lot less clear than it is now (with a vaccine). There was still plenty of discussion and uncertain data on masking, hand-washing, air flow, 3ft vs 6ft distance, and how they all affect the spread. I'm attaching a couple of links from late fall/ winter below, if you need to be reminded of the information that was making the rounds back then.

By October, the data was definitely clearer - showing that the risks of having children at school (masked, distanced, with proper ventilation) was no worse than the in the community - and in fact, the risk depended a lot on the community levels. Sadly, the schools chose to hold off on opening in November in favor of January due to the fact that only ~43% of parents voted for November.

After that decision was made, it was too late - you know what happened next, the holiday spike and the state rules would not allow opening. When schools opened up, in fact, SB Unified managed (due to some students staying remote) to decrease class sizes in order to allow more physical distancing - as recommended. Goleta, which has more money, was always able to do that, and had planned it from the start. Lucky them.

(SB not so lucky this year, we have at least one kindergarten classroom with 27 students). And at one unnamed school, apparently an unvaccinated teacher who spread COVID to 3 students.

Finally - as far as I know, there was no regular test data, certainly not much when people were vaccinated - last year. Children often get mild cases and are asymptomatic, so you won't necessarily know if they have COVID unless you test it. This general testing, where they are trying to get a cross section of students (and test most, eventually), hasn't been done to my knowledge.

(I am seeing more colds now that school is back in session! Several friends have had to keep their kids home for a few days due to colds - not able to go back to school until they test negative for COVID.)

GeneralTree Sep 24, 2021 09:44 PM
Santa Barbara Unified School Board Votes for COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate

The number of trolls on this thread spreading easily debunkable "information" is very sad. What also is sad is when adults won't believe tens of thousands of medical professionals but will believe that one video with a quack that doesn't side with the entire medical community. What's even sadder is that this type of disinformation spreading will be handed down to their next generation.

SantaBarbaralocal Sep 25, 2021 07:37 AM
Santa Barbara Unified School Board Votes for COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate

Whose information is debunkable?
I’m more concerned of propaganda- celebrities pushing shots, offering donuts and other unhealthy food (obesity is 80% of serious issues), no evidence of long term studies on mRNA being forced in the body (Nuremberg) , the amount of “false-positives” (Kary Mullis-creator of PCR, not some quack) the fact that you’re sad because people want freedom over tyranny. If your shot works, then why worry about those who don’t want it? If your shot works, why can you still get it and pass the virus?

SantaBarbaralocal Sep 25, 2021 07:40 AM
Santa Barbara Unified School Board Votes for COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate

One other question, if those who are getting vax’d can still get it and pass it to others…why aren’t they risk at losing their jobs too? They are just a danger to others as non-vax’d. It’s not about safety then at this point, it’s about control and fear-mongering.

SantaBarbaraObserver Sep 25, 2021 09:54 AM
Santa Barbara Unified School Board Votes for COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate

You are misinformed. The data, the science, the experts all agree that Vaccinated individuals are extremely unlikely to pass along the virus - as in almost never. Where on earth do you get your information? Let me guess: Facebook, random internet sites, rumors you hear on the street and the worst source on earth, FoxNews... Would you hire a $15 laborer to build you a new house? No, you'd hire an architect, an engineer, an experienced and licensed contractor and a lawyer. So why would you listen to a talk show host about something that takes decades of education and experience to understand? Remember, if they're on TV, the radio or the internet, they are there to sell ads. That is their job. To sell advertising, not facts, not science, not reality...

pstarSR Sep 25, 2021 10:08 AM
Santa Barbara Unified School Board Votes for COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate

sblocal, basically everything you said is what GeneralTree was stating. thanks for concreting that idea.

Vaxxed, dont go to the hospital. Vaxxed dont die at the hospital. how hard is this to understand. If we are ALLLL VaXXED no one goes to the hospital for it! ohhh my gosh..... LOGIC

SantaBarbaralocal Sep 27, 2021 07:03 AM
Santa Barbara Unified School Board Votes for COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate

Haha, you quote me about my “data” and yet you all quote, “the data shows.” Which basically means, “mainstream media told me…” Hypocritical much?
If you want to get the vax, awesome, but to require healthy people to get it (with a 99.96% survival rate) is absurd. I test every week, and I’ve been negative. Those who are vax’d don’t have to test but can still spread it…that’s not a problem?
They are coming for your kids next…it’ll be here in 6 weeks. If you want to pump you children with this mRNA gene therapy, that’s on you. The vax that they approved is not the one they are giving to people. Plus, it hasn’t gone through the proper evidence process that concludes in 2023. So no one knows the long term effects. Myocarditis is just one side effects that is showing now.
Anybody know what survival rate of natural immunity?
Look up Kary Mullis.

Voice of Reason Sep 27, 2021 08:19 AM
Santa Barbara Unified School Board Votes for COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate

Something I'm continually amazed at is the same people who are so sure of themselves when talking about "long covid", even though it hasn't been around long enough to have been studied long-term, are at the same time so sure of the vaccines long-term safety and efficacy, even though it hasn't been around enough to have long-term studies, so much so that they want to mandate it for children even before the CDC and FDA approves it for them. Science or Fear?

sacjon Sep 27, 2021 08:53 AM
Santa Barbara Unified School Board Votes for COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate

VOICE - am I really? How so? You said "it hasn't been around long enough to have been studied long-term," and I explained how long term (eg, permanent organ damage) has been observed. Yeah, sounds more like, once again, you just don't know what your point is. That, or you're once again dodging and weaving after being called out.

sacjon Sep 27, 2021 09:22 AM
Santa Barbara Unified School Board Votes for COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate

SBOBSERVER - "Remember, if they're on TV, the radio or the internet, they are there to sell ads." - Bravo. This statement should be a mantra of the pro-science community. What benefits do Docs and medical experts gain from warning the world about deadly disease? Now compare that to what benefits Hannity receives by firing up his viewers and having them spread his name and his news around to new viewers?

Voice of Reason Sep 27, 2021 09:27 AM
Santa Barbara Unified School Board Votes for COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate

I'm rather done going over things again and again with you as if I'm talking to my 6 year old. You continue to take a tiny part of my comment, hang an asterisk on it, then try to argue the minutia, completely missing the point. I don't post here for you or the other 2 musketeers, you're guys are too far gone, I do it for the other readers to provide some semblance of balance in what is normally a very myopic and one-sided view.

sacjon Sep 27, 2021 09:37 AM
Santa Barbara Unified School Board Votes for COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate

VOICE - you have got to be joking. YOU SAID "it hasn't been around long enough to have been studied long-term." I don't care about the rest of your comment. You keep making FALSE claims and then saying "oh you missed the point." No man. The point is, once again, your claim is WRONG. Run away again, like a child who refuses to play when they get called out for cheating.

sacjon Sep 27, 2021 09:41 AM
Santa Barbara Unified School Board Votes for COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate

VOICE - and furthermore, I never "tried to argue the minutia" until you doubled down and dug in your heels, like a child. I just made a quick point that the "long term" effects of covid are well documented, contrary to YOUR words. Now, you dig in and attempt to avoid admission that your claim was based on a false premise. You truly are amazing.

ZeroHawk Sep 27, 2021 10:05 AM
Santa Barbara Unified School Board Votes for COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate

Wow....lots of people complaining and arguing about educators that are around our kids and our kids are around them, have to get vaxed and this must be upsetting some of you. I get it.
However. Teachers are at risk. 20-20 kids per class room, different kids each our. Small indoor rooms. I'm not going to break down the math again for you, if you don't get it by now, you never will.
I have kids in public schools. 3 kids, two schools. If any of you think for one moment that teachers shouldn't have to get vaxed if they don't want to, you're wrong. They can find another job. This is no joke. I don't care any longer what weird conspiracy you have in your head about this or that. These are our kids, if you're going to get a paycheck from my tax dollars and are going to instruct my kids and teach them in an enclosed room, you are getting vaxed, otherwise, move to Texas and teach there, or Florida. This argument is just dumb as the deniers.

sacjon Sep 28, 2021 01:14 PM
Santa Barbara Unified School Board Votes for COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate

LETMEGO - you said it! It's basically a list of local morons. Anyone comparing vaccine mandates to the Holocaust is a bona fide fool and a bad person. It's outrageously offensive and diminishes the horrors of what people when through to make the illogical analogy between forcing families into ovens and requiring an FDA approved vaccine for students. Don't like it? Teach em yourself. Actually, don't. I can't think of much worse than a generation of children taught by their idiots parents that the Holocaust was somehow comparable to having to wear a mask to see a movie or get a vaccine to attend school.

It's embarrassing, nauseating wildly offensive and just sad to see how many in this country make this "argument." The Holocaust is not the same as a vaccine mandate during a global pandemic.


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