REDDING, Calif. - Parents and students across the state walking out, protesting the school vaccine mandate.
Parents, students, and teachers all met at the Riverfront Park Amphitheater Monday morning. Many came with their signs reading "our children, our choice" and "freedom of choice".
Havilah Cunnington and her sons hope Monday's rally sends a message.
“I hope the message is that we have voices, and we want to stand up for them and we know our rights,” said Cunnington. “Our hope is to get people's attention. You can't just dictate. We are not in a country where you can mandate things. We get our freedoms. We are Americans, that's why we live here.”
Other parents told Action News Now they just want the right to choose what’s best for their kids. But they also want to see local leaders fighting back against the COVID-19 mandates.
“We're out here because we want freedom for our children. We want to be able to choose what's right for them,” said Aimee Tera who attended Monday’s rally. “We don't co-parent with the government. The government works for us and we're going to make that clear today.”
Brennan Ramirez, a senior at Enterprise High School, was one of the speakers at Monday’s rally.
“My focus right now is to be here and to be a voice and to stand for what I believe,” said Ramirez. “Of course, I’m going to have concerns but I’m trying to not really think about that and do what I feel is right.”
Ramirez is on the basketball team and is involved in the student council. He chose to support the walkout.
“I want to show others, there's something to stand for here. What is happening is not okay,” said Ramirez. “It's not right to force other people to get the vaccine. I think it's ultimately up to the person, up to the family, to parents to choose what is right.”
Ramirez said he’s not sure how long he plans to stay out of class. But he’s taking it one day at a time.
Happy Valley School Board President Tim Garman spoke at Monday’s rally at the Riverfront Park. Last week, the school district voted to not follow Covid-19 vaccine mandates for staff and students.
Garman told Action News Now he hopes the walkout shows how the vaccine mandate will impact school staffing.
“If the mandates go through, whether it's January 2022 or July 22, our schools are only going to have only half the kids at school,” said Garman. “How do we keep the school open as a school board?”
Action News Now checked in with some school districts in Shasta County.
Enterprise Elementary School District said about 45% of students and 6% of the teachers were not in school Monday. The Shasta Union High School District said attendance was down about 40%.
The Shasta Union High School District said about 97% of its staff are vaccinated or are participating in weekly COVID-testing.
Enterprise Elementary School District also told Action News Now it's hard to tell what funding consequences will look like and adds it's unfortunate that local schools became a target over the issues.