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On Monday, faculty and students at schools across the state of California staged walkouts in defiance of vaccine and testing requirements set to take effect this week.
As reported by the Los Angeles Daily News:
The demonstrations — which spanned from San Francisco to San Diego, and from the San Fernando Valley to the Inland Empire and Orange County in between — coincided with statewide employee vaccination requirements that kick in this week, essentially leaving school employees with a choice to either get vaccinated, tested or potentially lose their jobs.
Word of possible sit-outs and other protests spread on social media over the weekend, with activists urging parents to pull their children from school — and teachers and other school employees to join them by staying home from work.
“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,” Tess Van Dusen, an event organizer, reportedly said, according to ABC10 in Sacramento.
Outside of a high school in Van Nuys that is part of the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), demonstrators held signs as they marched that reportedly read: “My Body, My Choice,” “Our kids are not lab rats,” and “Stop the mandate LAUSD.”
The Daily News noted that the demonstrators included people with a wide range of opinions about the vaccine. It added, “Amanda, the founder of the group who did not want her full name used out of concern for retaliation against her family, said some group members have gotten their COVID-19 shots and that some have children who have received all other immunization shots that the state requires of students attending school in person.”
“Not everyone in the group opposes vaccines in general, but they are concerned about exposing children to a vaccine whose long-term impacts haven’t been fully studied,” she said.
Local Southern California outlet ABC 7 added, “[o]rganizers called for parents to keep their children home or pull them from class as a form of protest against Gov. Gavin Newsom’s COVID vaccine mandate.”
Many protesters were defiant in their stance, noting that it wasn’t necessarily political for some, but rather an issue of personal choice.
Carol Wilkerson Runge, a former teacher, said, “I have personally been vaccinated. Half of my family has, half has not. But again, freedom of choice.”
“We’re not strong anti-vaxx type people, we just don’t feel there’s enough long-term data to justify this mandate,” said Russell Nord, a parent.
Some participants pushed for parents to keep their children home from school in order to affect the funds the schools receive.
“We know that if our children stay home from school that that will impact the funding that schools will get for that day,” said parent Babe Prieto, who is in support of the protest. “And we want them to know that we’re serious about not being forced to vaccinate our children.”
Patch, a neighborhood news site, reported:
A flyer circulating on social media encouraged parents to keep their children home from school “to keep schools from reaping average daily attendance funds,” according to organizers.
The walkout affected elementary, middle and high schools. The walkout also called upon California teachers and other district employees to stay home from work Monday.
“Parents and concerned citizens all over CA are taking action against the forced COVID-19 vaccine mandate for our children in state schools. We demand parental choice over the bodily autonomy of our children,” one Twitter flyer said.
As reported by The Daily Wire, “Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom held a press conference [earlier this month] announcing that California would become the first state to mandate eligible students attending public and private schools be vaccinated against COVID-19 for in-person instruction.”
According to KFI News in Los Angeles reporting at the time, “The governor is directing the California Department of Public Health to add the COVID vaccine to other vaccinations required for in-person learning.”
In August, Newsom “announced the Department of Public health issued a new order mandating approximately 320,000 teachers and school staffers across the state show proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 or be subject to regular testing.”
“Newsom promoted the move as a first-in-the-nation measure to protect students, encourage immunizations, and reduce coronavirus transmission,” per The Daily Wire. The new policy took effect August 12, and schools had to be fully compliant by October 15, the order said.