As Governor Gavin Newsom's state-wide vaccine mandate for California school staff goes into effect, teachers, parents, and students staged walkouts and protests across the state.
The demonstrations reportedly spanned from "San Francisco to San Diego, and from the San Fernando Valley to the Inland Empire and Orange County in between," according to the Los Angeles Daily News.
Word spread over the weekend of possible sit-outs and protests, with parents being urged to pull their children from school, and school staff being urged to stay home from work.
The largest protest, the "Our Children, Our Choice!" rally in Sacramento, resulted in thousands of people gathered in front of the state Capitol building.
"We're fighting for the freedom to make the medical choices that are best for our children. We are fully prepared to pull our kids from public school and hire our own teaching staff if that's what it takes. We do not co-parent with the government," said Tess Van Dusen, an event organizer, according to ABC10 in Sacramento.
"This is not an anti-vax rally, it's a freedom of choice rally," said George Palaziol of San Pedro, one of around 150 people who lined a the street in front of Peck Park on Western Avenue in San Pedro.
At the San Pedro protest, three people reportedly identified themselves as San Pedro-area teachers. One of them was a 25-year veteran teacher, another a new teacher. They said that they had been told not to report to work as of Monday.
"It's all about choice," said Jenna Danelo of San Pedro, a mom of three Los Angeles school children who had joined the picket line. She stated that no one should lose jobs over the mandates.
While protests were going on, some districts where vaccination rates are high noted little difference in attendance on Monday.
"It's been real quiet here," said Palos Verdes Peninsula Superintendent Alex Cherniss via email. "We've had a few parent emails informing us they’re keeping their kids out."
Chris Eftychiou, spokesman for the Long Beach Unified School District, said the district hadn't seen any difference in attendance on Monday.
Hundreds reportedly attended a rally by Lake Balboa/Anthony C. Beilenson Park in Encino, organized by LAUSD Parents for Choice.
Amanda, the founder of the group who did not want her full name used in fear of retaliation against her family, noted that some group members have received the vaccine and that some have children who have received all other immunization shots that the state requires of students attending school in person, according to the Los Angeles Daily News.
"We don't want this for our children — at least not yet," she said about the coronavirus vaccines, voicing concerns about giving children a vaccine that has yet to have long-term impacts studied. "The clinical trials aren't done. It's not even FDA-approved yet. LAUSD is getting way ahead of what Newsom's (mandating)."
Governor Gavin Newsom's state-wide vaccine mandate for school staff kicked in on October 15. Those not vaccinated are subjected to regular testing.
Los Angeles Unified School District also launched worker requirements for vaccinations this week. "District employees at the second-largest school system in the nation who get their first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine can remain working on campus, provided they get their second shot by Nov. 15," according to the Los Angeles Daily News.
Those who did not display proof of receiving their first dose of the vaccine by the end of this weekend could be barred from school campuses.
California has also laid out plans to vaccinate children over the age of 12 once the vaccine is fully approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
"At LAUSD, which has a more stringent policy than the state's, students 12 and older who participate in in-person extracurricular programs must have received their first vaccine dose by Oct. 3 and their second dose by Oct. 31. For students not in those programs, all 12 and older must receive their first dose by Nov. 21 and their second by Dec. 19," according to the Los Angeles Daily News.
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