At least one California school district is kicking students off of virtual Zoom lessons if they’re not up to date on their government mandated vaccinations.
Diana Vue, mother of a seventh-grader at Fresno’s Tioga Middle School, told KMPH her daughter was dumped from her online lessons over a four-day lapse in her vaccination schedule. Tioga Middle School is in the Fresno Unified School District, which is closed entirely to in-person classes.
Vue contacted her child’s teacher, but was told the state vaccination requirement remains valid despite the pandemic.
“So you’re saying she’s just going to have to be behind? And she’s like, ‘Yes, she’s going to have to be behind on assignments.’ And I was like, ‘that makes no sense. You guys can’t help them at all? That’s just stupid,’” Vue said. “I was livid.”
Jane Banks, director of health services for the Fresno Unified School District, told the news site the shift to online learning hasn’t changed the state’s school vaccination requirements.
“I think I’ve checked every day, twice a day to see if anything has changed, but the requirements still stand,” she said.
Banks pointed to several ways the school district is promoting the vaccinations, which supposedly included daily reminders to parents since July.
“I don’t receive any emails from them or any text messages from them, so I had no idea,” Vue told KMPH.
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“We have the Fresno County Superintendent of Schools Health Mobile coming on site. I have my own Fresno Unified health team who are also administering immunizations. United Health Centers were at three school sites this week and we’re planning more for next week. So we’re really trying to make it easier for families that don’t feel safe going to doctor’s offices,” Banks told the news site.
Vue argued many of the available times conflict with her work schedule and her daughter is asthmatic, and doesn’t like crowds. Vue said her daughter will be caught up on her shots in early next week, but she thinks it’s absurd she can’t participate in her online lessons until then.
“I’m upset because of that. They’re there to advocate for the students, and now my daughter is out for four days, behind on work for four days, and I don’t know what to do,” Vue said.
California schools aren’t unique in requiring vaccinations for online classes.
The Virginia Department of Health’s Lord Fairfax Health District held a walk-up vaccination clinic (on Friday), providing TDAP, HPV, and Meningococcal shots for students. According to Virginia state law, the immunizations are mandatory, even for students who may be attending school virtually.
The reports come as local health departments raise concerns about scores of kids falling behind on their scheduled government-mandated vaccinations during the pandemic, which some argue could make the nightmare situation with coronavirus even worse.
“The line will be drawn when students come back to school,” Pamela Kahn, president of the California School Nurses Organization and Coordinator of Health and Wellness at the Orange County Department of Education, told Voice of OC. Without strict enforcement, “We could have a whole influx of students whose immunizations got put off,” she said.
“This is not a good moment to have an epidemic of measles or mumps or whooping cough, and all this stuff is preventable,” Ilan Shapiro, spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics said. “Measles is more contagious than Coronavirus.”