By Janine Alven, student journalist for Minarets Press
At Minarets, there is a wide variety of students so it’s only right for these students to have a variety of opinions on what is affecting them. Recently, the COVID-19 vaccine mandate has caused controversies among the students; some are for the vaccine mandate and others are against the mandate, while there are students who really don’t have an opinion.
As of right now, the vaccine mandate isn’t going set to go into effect until July 1, 2022, and it is expected that there will be exemptions for religious and health reasons. This vaccine will add to the other ten vaccines that are required to attend school, which do not have any exemptions.
There are those students and families that won’t get vaccinated or are planning to not get vaccinated. Chawanakee Superintendent Dr. Marcy Guthrie explained their options, “For students who don’t get vaccinated on or by July 1, 2022, they could enroll in homeschool at Chawanakee Academy and Charter where we have students who are receiving a vigorous academic program from top-notch teachers and they don’t necessarily have to meet the vaccination requirements.” She also mentioned that private schools are also going to be required to follow the mandate so there could be applications to Chawanakee Charter and student affidavits where the parents decide that they just want to do this on their own.
Dr. Guthrie spoke about what is being done for those that won’t get vaccinated, “Right now there’s a lot happening that is outside of the district’s control. The governor comes out with a mandate, then the California Department of Public Health and other entities such as the Legislature could be involved so right now the district is aware that a mandate is eminent, but how that’s going to be implemented is still evolving and changing.”
Minarets and District officials believe that the reason for this mandate is to keep students safe, to keep schools open, and to prevent the spread of COVID-19. No one likes to be told what to do or what they have to do and many people believe that they have the right to choose. While some of the student population at Minarets have received the vaccine, there are those who don’t believe in the vaccine or hold other beliefs that surround vaccinations.
Junior Tristynn Schendel is against the vaccine mandate because “I’m mostly against the mandate because I feel that people should have a choice in what they want to put in their bodies and I feel that this ‘vaccine’ was whipped up too fast and that they haven’t really done any analysis or research for long-term and short-term effects.”
Junior Kylie Howard is also against the mandate of the vaccine because, “I believe that students should have a choice and their beliefs shouldn’t affect their education.”
Dr. Guthrie, when asked about how she expects the students to respond to the vaccine mandate, said “I think our students are no different than our employees. Many of our employees have been vaccinated. Currently, over 50% of our Chawanakee Unified employees are vaccinated, so that tells us that there is group of our staff have not taken the opportunity to get vaccinated as that has been their choice.” She emphasized that school closures have been hard on students, employees, and families and this vaccine mandate is a way to keep our school open and keep staff and students safe.”
Senior Levi Eniram agrees with the mandate saying, “The vaccine is meant to keep people from dying. Who in their right mind wouldn’t want to get it? It’s safe and tested. I’ve gotten both doses and it felt completely fine. I’m terrified of needles and I still got it anyway. It’s not the government infringing on any rights. They’re just asking you to get a free vaccine to keep you and everyone else alive. What’s the problem?”
Sophomore Brenna Barnes also agrees with the mandate because “getting the vaccine not only ensures your own safety but the safety of those around you. As someone who is at high risk, it is not my job to avoid necessary social interactions just because someone doesn’t think getting the vaccination is necessary. I am tired of being treated like my needs aren’t necessary because I’m disabled and chronically ill.”
So far there are already things being done at Minarets to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and keep students safe. Since students returned to school in April of 2021, the mask mandate has been enforced in the indoor areas of the school and now we have on-site rapid COVID-19 testing for athletes and other students so that we are able to figure out who is negative or positive and do any contract testing that is necessary on campus.
Seeing as the vaccine mandate isn’t set to go into effect until July 1, 2022, there is still time for changes to be made to what we know now and how the mandate will be implemented before the next school year begins.
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