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COVID vaccination should be mandatory for high school students

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The low rates of COVID-19 vaccinations among high school students in California is disappointing. While 69% of all Californians have received at least one dose, according to USAFacts, that number is only 9.45% for 12-17 year olds.

When students are not vaccinated, the risk of higher transmission rates within the schools increases and domino effects to communities and further. Many schools have just been referring to the bare minimum guidelines provided by their county and doing no further in fear of litigation and press.

However, the Los Angeles Unified School District is bucking the trend and considering becoming the first district in the nation to require mandatory vaccinations for all eligible students. All other school districts should follow suit.

According to the California All site for tracking COVID-19 in California, as of Thursday, minors currently account for 14.2% of the state’s total confirmed cases. Although the death rate is extremely low at 1%, the long-term effects of the illness are still not fully understood and the risk of spreading the infection from person to person is still possible and high, according to the Centers for Disease Control’s site for COVID-19.

Even mask mandates and other guidelines to stop the spread of COVID-19 are frustratingly inconsistent. In predominantly politically conservative school districts such as San Diego Unified, their policies are less strict than districts swaying more liberal such as San Francisco Unified. According to the San Diego Unified District’s site, “staff are required to get vaccinated or take part in weekly COVID-19 testing,” while students are not required to be vaccinated or be tested, they can optionally test, “as testing equipment allows’.” The San Francisco Unified District’s site states that every student in the district is required to answer a “daily health screening” test online to reduce the risk of spreading the infection. San Diego Unified has placed their COVID-19 tab second to last at the top of their web page, whereas San Francisco Unified has placed it as first.

As for Bonita Unified School District in La Verne, a daily screening is also required of all students, according to their Unified District site. Face coverings become a little more specific for this district as they are required, but with exceptions clearly laid out. They are required but are given an exception when it comes to eating, drinking, for a therapy session, a “disability, mental health condition, or other sensory sensitivity,” or if suggested not to by their medical professional. In order to be granted an exception to this rule, a form must be completed with the signature of the medical provider, including information about themselves and their practice.

Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a recent school visit in San Bernardino County that masks were keeping students safe and at school for in-person instruction. He briefly made a comment on how he was taking the advice of the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics, rather than the advice more in the direction of Florida and other states. According to the New York Times COVID-19 tracker site, Florida is currently leading in the amount of cases on a daily average.

With uncertain guidelines remaining and mask mandates not being enforced, the prospects of what is to come with this pandemic leaves many with uncertainty. Those who can get the vaccine should get the vaccine to protect themselves and others and every school district should begin requiring vaccination for all its eligible students.

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