We appreciate, applaud, and encourage the School Board’s and District Administration’s consideration of a requirement that all PUSD teachers and staff to be vaccinated, subject to valid medical and religious exemptions. This will further reduce the risk of COVID-19 infections in our schools, particularly for students under 12 years old, for whom vaccination is not yet available, and staff who cannot be vaccinated for medical or religious reasons.
Although California law currently requires K-12 students to be immunized against a variety of diseases, it currently does not require public school teachers and staff to be immunized against the same diseases. A possible explanation is that the Legislature has not addressed this issue because (a) students must be immunized absent a medical or religious exemption, and so are less likely to get sick if exposed to an infected staff member; and (b) most staff members themselves were immunized when they were children. Neither rationale applies to COVID-19, for which vaccines have just become available and which are not yet available to children under 12 years old.
We suspect and hope that many, if not all, PUSD teachers and staff already are immunized against COVID-19. A PUSD vaccination requirement will encourage any who have not yet gotten the shots to do so. Just as no one wants to be infected with COVID-19, no one wants to be responsible for infecting anyone else with COVID-19. Those who cannot be vaccinated, and even the vaccinated at risk of “break- through” infections, will appreciate a vaccination requirement for all PUSD teachers and staff.
Rick Raushenbush is a former PUSD School Board Trustee