Oakland Unified School District approves COVID vaccination mandate for students 12 and up

Anaiya Layland, 12, receives her first Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination as her mother, Ashlesha Patel, observes at the Cook County Public Health Department, Thursday, May 13, 2021, in Des Plaines, Ill. (AP Photo/Shafkat Anowar)

The Oakland Unified School Board approves vaccine mandate for those 12 and older. Those with certain medical cases and religious beliefs are exempt.

As the first of its kind in Northern California, there is no timeline for implementation yet. The Los Angeles Unified School District implemented a vaccine mandate for students earlier this year.

“Vaccination is really one of the best tools we have in the toolbox to limit outbreaks at our schools and to keep our teenagers safe and in school learning,” said Sam Davis, the Vice President of the Oakland School Board.

However, not everyone in the Oakland district supports the vaccine mandate.

“Students expressed a concern about alienating students and families with such a strict policy considering that parents and guardians have the ultimate decision-making power,” said a student representative.

“Adding this vaccine as a requirement would be premature and unscientific. It would not be waiting for the data,” said one man named George during the public comment session.

Teachers across the board fought for vaccine mandates during discussions.

“As a teacher I would love it because I think it would make it a little safer in the classroom,” said Mary Daisy Fong, an Oakland Tech high school math teacher, “I don’t think the mask thing is as reliable I mean the kids go outside at lunch, off come the masks, they’re eating their food. I mean they’re kids. RIght? So vaccine I know is for sure, the masking is on and off.”

Oakland is not alone in discussions of vaccine mandates. 

The West Contra Costa Unified school board planned to vote on a student mandate Tuesday, but the district’s superintendent canceled that meeting, citing the need to further work out specifics, reported KTVU. Berkeley Unified’s board discussed a draft of its limited vaccine on Wednesday, but took no action. 

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