Push to require Bay Area teachers to be vaccinated gains momentum

EAST PALO ALTO, Calif. (KRON) — Only a few Bay Area school districts have opened so far for the new 2021-2022 school year, but COVID infections are already being reported among teachers and students.

State Senator Josh Becker (D-San Mateo) is calling on school districts to require that all teachers and school staff must be fully vaccinated, or submit to regular testing.

“We are in the middle of a crisis that can be ended within weeks if people simply get vaccinated,” Becker told reporters at a news conference held at Ravenswood Family Health Network in East Palo Alto. His district includes San Mateo County and Santa Clara County.

State Senator Josh Becker

Becker said students, including his own two teenagers, are excited to go back to school. But he is concerned about unvaccinated students being exposed to the virus in the classroom.

COVID cases are surging again as a result of the highly contagious Delta variant. 

Becker, pediatricians, and other Bay Area politicians said keeping children in the classroom this year is extremely important.

Distance learning and other forms of isolation from the pandemic had a “catastrophic” impact on children’s education and mental health last school year, said Dr. Jeremiah Davis, an associate medical director of pediatrics at Ravenswood.

Dr. Davis said, “As pediatricians, we see the drastic effects of the pandemic on the mental health of our patients who are struggling with isolation and effects of online schooling. It is critical children have the opportunity to return to schools in person, in an environment that is as safe for them as possible.”

Dr. Jeremiah Davis

There are no vaccines yet available for children who are younger than 12 years old. If COVID outbreaks surge through the Bay Area’s schools, the responsibility will fall squarely on adults, Becker said.

Deciding to get vaccinated, or not, should be based on science — not politics, Becker said. 

“We must do everything we can to ensure lives are not lost simply because some in our community disagree with the science,” he said.

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Dr. Davis said he wants to reassure everyone that the vaccines are safe.

“Those that can be vaccinated should, and those that can’t yet should be protected by the adults around them who can receive the vaccine,” Dr. Davis said.

A first-grade classroom spreads desks apart. (Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)

Ravenswood Family Health Network offers free vaccines at two locations:

1885 Bay Road, East Palo Alto

  • Every Thursday (5pm – 7pm)
  • Every Saturday (9am – 12pm)

785 Morse Ave., Sunnyvale

  • Every Wednesday (5pm – 7pm)

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