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TUSD parents, students protest vaccine mandate at school board meeting
TUSD vaccine mandate protest
Turlock Unified School District families and community members protest the statewide vaccine mandate at Tuesday’s TUSD Board of Trustees meeting (PAWAN NAIDU/The Journal).

Following the news that California will be mandating COVID-19 vaccines for students to attend school, Turlock residents made their voices heard during a protest against the mandate held at the Tuesday’s TUSD board meeting.

Governor Gavin Newsom announced Friday that the state will require COVID-19 vaccines for all school children ages 12-17 once the FDA grants full approval, becoming the first state in the country to move forward on mandating vaccines for school children. The requirement is going to be another immunization along with 10 other vaccines that are already required to attend school.

“It’s ridiculous, they’re taking things to such extremes and it’s out of control. They have lost sight of what they’re trying to do,” said Ryan Dias.

Dias also believes the school board isn’t doing enough to advocate for parents and students who are against the vaccine mandate.

“I just read the email they sent out earlier and it sounds like they’re going to try to take no stance and stand up for people. They should be standing up for positions they’re supposed to be representing and taking the side of compliance and saying it’s not their job, that is unamerican,” he said.

The email he was referencing was sent out to the TUSD community earlier that day to address concerns about the vaccine mandate.

“Our concerns regarding this mandate continue to be the effects it would have on our TUSD community, specifically on our ability to provide in-person learning for all students with a full complement of highly-qualified, dedicated staff.  Our goal is to be able to continue accommodating the needs of students, families, and staff with allowable exemptions and continued COVID-19 testing as permissible in an ongoing effort to respect the rights of students and staff while keeping all safe,” said Superintendent Dana Trevethan.

She also provided information about the potential timetable for the mandate, possible medical and religious exemptions available to students and encouraged everyone to contact the California Department of Public Health and their local representatives with their concerns.

Most of the parents and community members agreed that the email was not enough and the board could be doing more.

“We had a board meeting on Oct. 5, items were presented then, this is only the second meeting from then and an hour before the meeting, the board has issued an email to all the parents, basically, wiping their hands clean and saying please forward concerns to your county person, or the governor themselves. That to me is not representing your community. So, at this point they have, in my opinion, closed down the dialogue, and have not allowed for parents or anyone to feel comfortable to even bring it up,” said Debbie Garcia.

She added that the governor, school board or anyone else doesn’t have the authority to issue these mandates.

“I don’t think anyone has the right to tell anyone what to do with their health. That is not their job,” said Garcia.

Even though a number of parents expressed frustration with the district, TUSD stated it appreciates the community sharing their perspective with them.

"The Board of Trustees values the opportunity to hear from parents in our community at meetings, especially on topics that they are most knowledgeable about — their own children. We have made it through challenging times the past two years and we are hopeful the State will bring more clarity to an issue that many in our TUSD community feel so passionately about," said board president Lori Carlson.

With this mandate some parents are threatening to take their kids out of the public schools and find alternative options or homeschool.

“Hundreds of people are like we’re done. A girl can go and be taken out of school and go get an abortion and the nurse can go take her to get one and not even tell the parent, but they’re mandated to take the vaccine,” said Gina Keaney.