LANCASTER — A proposed Healthy Children resolution calling on the Lancaster School District to advocate for parental choice for masking and vaccinating their children and to ensure that mask guidelines will not be based on vaccination status did not get enough votes to pass at Tuesday night’s Board meeting.
The resolution was added to the agenda by recommendation of the Board at the Sept. 21 meeting.
“Our intention is for health and safety of children and staff,” Board Clerk Greg Tepe said.
Tepe supported the resolution in part to regain more parental control and to support being able to have children in school without masks.
“I don’t think the science really supports what they’re trying to push through,” Tepe said.
Trustee Diane Grooms sought to table the resolution.
“I don’t feel that the existing data that’s quoted in this resolution is sufficient for me to change from the mandate,” Grooms said. “I believe that the entire issue has been politicized. I also feel that if we are going to have a resolution on healthy children we must also contain information that expresses our concern for our staff and our community as well.”
Trustee Keith Giles said they can make another resolution to support families and staff.
“This one’s for children; we’re always saying we’re children first,” Giles said, adding he agreed they need a resolution for staff.
Board President Duane Winn agreed the issue has been politicized. He also noted the data in the footnotes is outdated.
Grooms’ motion to table the resolution failed on a 2-2 vote, with Tepe and Giles dissenting. Board Vice President Sandra Price was absent.
A motion to approve the resolution as is also failed on a 2-2 vote, with Winn and Grooms dissenting.
Gov. Gavin Newsom last week announced that California would be the first state in the nation to require student vaccinations, adding the COVID-19 vaccine to a list of vaccinations required for school, such as the vaccines for measles, mumps, and rubella. Public and private school students will be required to be vaccinated for in-person instruction starting the first term following full approval by the US Food and Drug Administration of the vaccine for all eligible seventh- through 12th-grade students and kindergarten through sixth grade students.
The first vaccine deadline for seventh through 12th grades is expected to be July 1. Currently, students 12 to 15 years old can get the Pfizer vaccine under emergency authorization. The FDA fully approved the vaccine for individuals 16 and older.
This past summer, California became the first state in the nation to implement school masking and staff vaccination measures. School employees must either be vaccinated against COVID-19 or submit to weekly testing. Schools are required to be in full compliance with the policy by Oct. 15.
Superintendent Michele Bowers read a statement from Laura Giles, wife of trustee Keith Giles, asking the Board to approve the Healthy Children resolution. Giles lauded the Board for its efforts to create a safe learning environment for students.
“While your attentions are well-meaning, I feel that there is great harm being done to our children in requiring masks indoors, to quarantine and disrupt their learning even further and the upcoming vaccine mandate by the state,” the letter said, adding citations from several articles.
Speaker Sandra Romereim expressed concern about state mandates.
“I know that the mandates come from the state but it is unlawful,” Romereim said. “I’m vaccinated only because I felt forced to … and that vaccination actually caused a heart condition.”
Romereim said COVID-19 has a 99% survival rate, despite more than 707,000 COVID-19 deaths in the United States since the start of the pandemic last year.
“Mind you, we still had COVID and I still took it home to the kids,” Romereim said, adding she hoped the Board would look into the law and take a stand.
Teacher Mikki Martinez, who is in her 19th year with the District, also spoke out against the state mandates.
“If our district continues to follow the governor’s tyrannical mandates, and we are eventually required to be fully vaccinated in order to remain employed with our district, one of you will be faced with the task of firing me,” Martinez said.
Martinez added she is not yet ready to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
“I say yet because I am not saying I will never take it, but I am not ready to take it and especially unwilling to take it under threat, duress and coercion,” she said.
Martinez added she is forced to be segregated as a second-class citizen and identified as unvaccinated were she to be tested at school.
“I have the right to my privacy,” she said. “Testing at our site is not only lacking privacy but leaves us subject to scrutiny for being unvaccinated by our peers as well as students.”