West Contra Costa Unified’s school board on Tuesday will consider requiring faculty, staff and students 12 years and older to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, becoming possibly the first in the Bay Area to do so.
If the board approves a resolution written by Trustee Demetrio Gonzalez Hoy calling for the vaccine mandate, students and staff in all district schools would have to be fully inoculated by Oct. 31. Those who receive Pfizer and Moderna would need to get their first shot by Oct. 3.
Those with valid medical or religious reasons would be exempted from the mandate but must be tested regularly. Non-exempted students 12 and older who refuse the vaccine would be allowed to switch to remote instruction, which the district kept this school year for students who felt more comfortable learning from home.
Faculty and staff who decline to be vaccinated could be put on unpaid leave unless the district has a position available in its remote-learning program.
If the resolution is approved at the board’s special meeting Tuesday, West Contra Costa Unified would become one of the first local public school districts to require COVID-19 vaccinations for all eligible students if the resolution is approved. Oakland Unified’s school board introduced a similar resolution last week but has not voted on it yet.
San Francisco Unified is requiring only faculty and staff to be vaccinated, largely because 90% of the city’s eligible youth are already at least partially inoculated, according to CalMatters. And earlier this week, San Mateo Unified discussed a vaccine mandate for students participating in extracurricular activities but didn’t take action, according to the San Mateo Daily Journal.
West Contra Costa Unified currently has 49 active COVID-19 cases — including eight students — across all of its campuses, according to the district’s online dashboard. It recorded 74 new cases in the first two weeks of the current school year that began Aug. 16.
The district has roughly 26,000 enrolled students this academic year, plus 3,000 faculty and staff members. Out of the 83% of staff members who reported their vaccination status, about 93% are already vaccinated according to the dashboard.
During a meeting earlier this summer, Trustee Leslie Reckler asked Superintendent Kenneth “Chris” Hurst to bring back recommendations for a vaccine mandate that the board could consider.
At a meeting last month, Hurst said he was investigating the possibility of a vaccine mandate similar to one passed by Culver City Unified in Southern California.
Last week, Los Angeles Unified became the state’s largest public school district to establish a vaccine mandate.
In an interview, Gonzalez Hoy said he collaborated with Hurst and other district officials, as well as Contra Costa Health Services, to draft the resolution. The district did not respond to a request for comment on the resolution’s details.
The executive board of the district’s faculty union, United Teachers of Richmond, voted last week by a large margin to support a vaccine mandate for all eligible students and staff. Union president Marissa Glidden said in a text message that an initial survey revealed 90% of union members support the mandate as well.
Tuesday’s special board meeting begins at 6:30 p.m.
Last night the UTR Executive Board voted overwhelmingly to support a vaccine mandate for all eligible WCCUSD students & staff. Let’s keep our students safe and our schools open! pic.twitter.com/KndAow4WG3
— UTR (@UTRichmondCA) September 9, 2021