Should we implement vaccine mandates?

On the surface, we may all desire a vaccine mandate. Many people who have already been vaccinated do not want to put up with uncomfortable masking and social distancing, as these rules are largely made to preserve the health of those who have not yet been vaccinated or prevent the vaccinated from experiencing a breakthrough case of COVID-19.

School COVID-19 regulations are becoming more strict as people grow impatient for the end of the pandemic. Los Angeles schools have implemented vaccination mandates for their students, allowing only vaccinated kids to attend in-person classes. 

However, Country Day should continue to follow COVID-19 regulations, but should not implement a vaccine mandate.

Why? This seems counterintuitive to the vaccine mandate arguments many have made in the media and in society. A vaccine requirement would create imbalances in education quality. 

According to the Los Angeles Unified School District, “A qualified exemption (for a COVID-19 vaccine) includes a medical exemption. Students may be conditionally admitted if they are in one of these groups: foster youth, homeless, migrant, military family, or has an IEP. State law does not recognize religious or personal belief exemptions for student immunizations.” That means that  children can be denied in-person learning if their parent’s religious beliefs conflict with the vaccination of their child.

Most may agree that Zoom classes are adequate, but learning is most productive for most kids in person. If a kid has to stay home on Zoom in a more remote and distracting environment and does not learn as well, he or she is not receiving the same education as his or her peers.

In addition, the decision for vaccination is not even in the child’s hands. The parents are responsible for the decision to get vaccinated or not. Why should we deprive kids of the same education as their peers just because their parents have differing ideologies? 

The case can also be made that in a school setting where multiple ages are present, such as Country Day, an attempt to enforce a vaccine mandate does not make medical sense. Children have the ability to interact with each other on the school campus whether they have been vaccinated or not, and children under the age of 12 are not even eligible for vaccination.

Although a vaccine mandate would be inequitable, COVID-19 safety regulations are not. Students should continue to follow safety requirements by socially distancing and wearing masks at all times.

— By William Holz

Originally published in the Sept. 21 edition of the Octagon.

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