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California is first state to push vaccine mandate for schoolchildren

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CHICO, Calif. - Governor Gavin Newsom is mandating COVID-19 vaccination for schoolchildren. The mandate takes effect once a vaccine receives full FDA approval.

"Schools are like an incubation area because they get everything that comes through," Bob Smith, who supports the vaccine mandate said.

Smith thinks it is necessary to have school-aged children get vaccinated in order to reach herd immunity and to keep them safe in the classroom.

"At home, they don't get the full attention that they get in school,” Smith said. “They need to be in the room with other kids and a teacher."

Dave Schreiber lives in Chico and thinks a mandate is going too far.

"I am vaccinated, I believe in the vaccination, but I just think the science says children don't need it,” Schreiber told Action News Now.

A parent who did not want to be identified said that it is too soon to impose a mandate.

"Maybe in two years from now, but not yet,” the concerned parent said.

Since they are still waiting for FDA approval, California expects it will impact seventh to twelfth grade in July of 2022.

K-6 mandates kick in once the five to eleven age group gets full approval.

Right now, Butte County has 30.5% of kids ages 12 to 17 fully vaccinated. 23.5% in Shasta County, 20% in Tehama County, and less than 35% in Glenn, Trinity, and Modoc counties.

"I do understand why you should be vaccinated to go back in person because online school really sucked,” High school senior Grace Hostetter said. “A lot of people hated it and most kids struggled with it. But I also believe in your body, your choice."

School staff is also being mandated to get vaccinated once the vaccines reach full FDA approval.

"It's stressful, but I can see why it is important,” Abby Nielsen, a preschool teacher in Chico said. “It's important to keep the kids safe."

The Butte County Office of Education Superintendent Mary Sakuma gave us this statement regarding the mandate:

"School leaders throughout the state will continue to do what they have always done, putting the safety of students and staff first. The safety measures in schools, including wearing masks, testing, and ventilation, have proven to be critical layers of protection. The delayed effective date of Governor Newsom's plan is helpful for our local educational agencies to have time to plan and implement the mandate. The Butte County Office of Education will continue to support districts and charter schools meet the requirements to remain open for in-person instruction. I understand that our parents and community members may still have concerns regarding the vaccine. I urge everyone to have conversations with a trusted health professional about the safety of the vaccine. Second, I want to stress that medical and religious exemptions, and possibly a personal belief exemption, will be made available for families."

"If it comes down to the governor making it a mandate like all other vaccines are mandated for school-aged children, I would support that,” Lois Landau, who lives in Chico said.

Tehama County Superintendent of Schools Richard DuVarney also shared the following statement regarding the vaccine mandate:

"Govern Newsom's mandate is problematic in the sense that resistance will cause kids tot to have access to education. Students won't go to school and staff could potentially leave. The biggest challenge rights now are with employment. Imposing this mandate will be difficult from a personal standpoint."

Chico Unified School District is also sending out a note today to families saying that the mandate is not their decision, but a state decision. They do not have the ability to change it but will be in open communication with families as they continue to navigate the pandemic.

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