The Sacramento City Unified School District announced Wednesday that students will now have until Feb. 28 to comply with its COVID-19 vaccine mandate. The move, less than a week before the original deadline of Jan. 31, comes with only 55% of students 12 or older reporting full vaccination or a registered exemption by Wednesday morning.
Without the extension, the thousands of students who did not submit proof of full vaccination or a registered exemption by that date would have been moved to Independent Study.
Students 12 and older now have another month to report vaccination or exemption status on the district’s website.
In a press release, the district said the extension also allowed for additional time for navigating the “daily demands of the omicron surge.”
“This recommendation was made due to the compliance rate, and also due to our communications, health services and school site teams’ emergency need to shift focus with the omicron surge to COVID-19 testing, contact tracing, data reporting, staffing and public health guideline updates,” the press release reads.
District spokesperson Alexander Goldberg said via email that more information about the vaccine mandate for district staff would “likely” be communicated Thursday. As of Wednesday morning, over 90% of staff had either submitted proof of full vaccination or filed a registered exemption.
The deadline extension was recommended at the district’s Jan. 13 board meeting, but Goldberg said via email that “the district needed to implement and communicate these changes internally if the numbers didn’t improve this week.”
When the board meeting was held, around 53% of students 12 and over had filed proof of vaccination or a registered exemption. About 86% of staff had done the same.
However, the recommendation to push the mandate back to Feb. 28 for students was not listed on the agenda as a discussion item, and several public commenters expressed shock that it was being discussed.
Community member Justine Hearn said during the meeting that implementing the recommendation would be like “moving back.”
“Even if it can’t be done perfectly, it’s not a reason not to attempt to do it at all,” Hearn said. “Where do we need to be and what can be done to get there? That’s what we should be talking about, not hitting the brakes and slowing down. If it’s improving Independent Study, let’s continue to work on that. If it’s getting more staff, more bodies into schools to help with testing … focus on that.”
David Fisher, president of the Sacramento City Teachers Association, was also at the Jan. 13 meeting. He told CapRadio Wednesday that the district had not previously discussed the decision to extend the mandate with the association.
Language in the resolution establishing the mandate states that the deadline to submit proof of vaccination or a registered exemption is subject to superintendent discretion based on SCUSD resources.
Still, Fisher said he wanted more transparency from the district.
“While we, from the beginning, have proposed a vaccination mandate and support the mandate, the problem is they don’t have enough teachers to staff Independent Study because they continue to demand huge cuts in pay,” he said.
Fisher said that the association had also “been left in the dark” with regard to any potential updates to the staff vaccination mandate.
When asked, Goldberg did not mention whether there would be additional testing or vaccination clinics for students, but said outreach to families is sent out in English, Spanish, Vietnamese, Chinese and Hmong, with the district also recently hiring a Farsi translator.
Students 5 to 11 are currently not mandated to submit proof of vaccination or exemption, but must register for “regular, routine” COVID-19 testing per the board’s mandate. Students 12 and older who are not fully vaccinated, including students who have filed an approved exemption, must also register for testing.
“Right now we are focused on enforcing the current requirement by February 28,” Goldberg said about prioritizing a vaccine mandate for students 5-11. “Omicron has impacted much of our operations to extend outreach as we focus on testing.”
At the Jan. 13 meeting, the board said other current forms of outreach included a board member public service announcement video, emails and phone calls to families that have not submitted information and partnering with the Mexican Consulate and Hmong Youth and Parents United.
Currently, the district offers COVID-19 testing at School Site Care Rooms during school hours, School Suite Surveillance Testing days (you can find your school’s here), the Serna Center (Monday-Friday, 12:00-3:30 p.m.) and Albert Einstein Middle School (Monday-Friday, 3-6 p.m.).
Other community testing sites can be found here.
Vaccinations for those 5 and up will also be available at the following locations and times, with walk-ins available:
- Ethel I. Baker Elementary, 3-6 p.m.:
- Jan. 27
- Serna Center, 4-7 p.m.:
- Jan. 28
- Feb. 4
- Feb. 11
- Feb. 18
- Feb. 25
- Oak Ridge Elementary, 3-7 p.m.:
- Feb. 2
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