Citing Piedmont’s high student vaccination rate, the Board of Education on Wednesday night unanimously voted to modify its COVID-19 vaccine stance, no longer requiring all eligible students to be fully vaccinated in order to attend in-person school. PUSD adopted the policy in September 2021, making it one of the most far-reaching mandates in the state. Age-eligible unvaccinated students (except for those with a valid medical exemption) would have been referred to independent study under the earlier policy. The vaccination rate among PUSD students is over 98% as of Jan. 26, according to Superintendent Randy Booker, even higher than the 97+% just a few days earlier.
The move comes after two anonymous Piedmont parents — funded by the well-known anti-vaccination group the Children’s Health Defense Fund — filed suit against the school district at the end of last year, challenging the vaccine mandate for all students age 5 and up. Neither trustees nor school administrators made mention of the legal challenge during the meeting, choosing instead to reiterate their strong belief in the original vaccine policy and leaning in further by adopting a resolution that both praised the school community for its cooperation and urged the state legislature to add the COVID-19 vaccination to its list of required public school immunizations. (Read the full resolution HERE.)
With the revised policy, the handful of unvaccinated students in the district will be able to attend in-person school.
The District believes that students benefit exponentially more from an in-person educational experience than an Independent Study Program. Because of this, and our incredibly high vaccination rates, the Superintendent is recommending that the Board of Education remove COVID-19 from Board Policy and Administrative Regulation 5141.31 until the California Department of Public Health and the State of California adds it to the list of required immunizations as found in Health and Safety Code 120335; 17 CCR 6025, Education Code, California Legislation and/or by Executive Order of the Governor.
At this time, the District finds no educational value in transferring vaccine-hesitant students into an Independent Study program when we are experiencing a remarkably high vaccination rate across all campuses.PUSD memo re: Administrative Regulation 5141.31 Immunizations
“It was very forward-thinking of the Board,” said Trustee Amal Smith. “I’m very proud.” She said it was now time to put pressure on the state legislature to move forward with the vaccine requirement.
“When we were exceeding 90 percent [of vaccinated students] I was so pleased,” said Board President Cory Smegal. “What it said to me was that the vast majority of our community works to think beyond themselves, protect others, protect our most vulnerable. When we talked about this as a board, this is what we were trying to do — keep members of our community safe. And for the people who don’t feel this way, I was feeling sad for them for not understanding the importance of acting on behalf of community.”
No members of the public asked to speak on this agenda topic.