Written by Maia Goel and Emily Olson
Last week, the M-A Chronicle sent out a poll to all M-A students and found that the majority of students are in favor of some sort of student COVID-19 vaccination mandate. In the face of a statewide staff mandate and Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) mandating vaccines for all its students, a decision requiring all M-A students to be vaccinated against COVID-19 seems more likely than ever.
Student Support for a Vaccine Mandate
Comments from students who were in favor of a mandate include:
“If schools can mandate all the other vaccines we have to get for measles and other illnesses that haven’t been a problem here in forever, they definitely can, and should mandate COVID-19 vaccines”
“I understand people will still push back but if they refuse to be COVID safe, why should I be risking myself and my family? Either they should be forced to do at-home learning, or I should be given the choice.”
“If we’re going to go back to full in-person, we NEED mandatory testing or vaccinations. Especially with the lack of masks outdoors, it’s essential that we prioritize the health and safety of students and staff over not having to deal with a few complaints from parents who want a global pandemic to continue.”
Comments from students who voted against a mandate include:
“I believe we should not be obligated to take the vaccine. If you guys make us take the vaccine, you’re just forcing us to do something some people don’t want to. I will not take the vaccine for my own reasons, and I will not be forced to.”
“I think that getting vaccinated needs to be a choice that people make for themselves, not because of a mandate.”
A follow up question asked about what type of mandate students would like to see.
I think that everyone should have to get vaccinated OR tested weekly
I think that everyone should have to get vaccinated except for medical or religious reasons
12.8% of respondents chose the option “I don’t think there should be a student mandate,” and the remaining 6.6% chose to write in their own answers. Some of the write-in responses include:
“I think that everyone should have to get vaccinated except for medical reasons. There are no religions forbidding vaccines; it’s an excuse used by anti-vaxxers to get away with endangering public health.”
“I think everyone should have to get vaccinated unless their family or culture doesn’t allow it, in which case they should get tested weekly or every other week.”
However, many students voiced concerns about the feasibility of such a mandate.
“I feel like if we made a vaccination mandate, we would suddenly divide the school in two and there would be some chaos.”
“While I do believe a vaccine mandate would be ideal, I don’t think there is any way that would be possible given the current political climate. People want freedom to do as they please, whether or not their decision is supported by science.”
“I think that although a vaccine mandate is a good idea, the legal repercussions should be considered since it isn’t technically legal, even if it is a good idea. The LAUSD is so far the only district that has done this, and it is facing some legal challenges, so we should consider the effect on SUHSD if it ultimately fails.”
Other notable student responses include:
“It’s their body, their choice. I’m completely fine as long as wearing masks is still a rule.”
“Whilst I believe in people getting vaccinated for the protection of themselves and others, I also think that the right to education is important and if public schools such as Menlo-Atherton turn students away, that would be an issue. I would support a vaccine mandate if there were options for students who are either unable to or choose not to get vaccinated such as online learning, similar to the hybrid system we had in place last year. I know of several schools that already have a vaccine mandate in place and will completely turn away unvaccinated students, forcing them to go to another school. This can create hardships for the student and their family, especially if the school is no longer local/easily accessible. Therefore, I would not support a vaccine mandate unless there are equitable substitutions for those not able to attend campus as a result.”
“Coronavirus is fake and the vaccine can hurt people.”
Under Senate Bill 130, the District is required to offer a distance learning program for students who do not feel safe returning to in-person instruction. The classes are offered through Edgenuity and are available for the 21-22 school year.
While the majority of students believe in a vaccine mandate for students, it is obvious that students on both sides are firm in their beliefs. The District has yet to reveal a decision on this matter, and the decision is likely to cause tension on campus. Read our editorial on this subject here.