‘We look to you for bold leadership’: WCCUSD board president asks county health officer for vaccine guidance
on September 25, 2021
The West Contra Costa Unified school board president is urging the county health officer to issue guidance on a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for the school district.
“This is the public health issue of our lifetime,” Mister Phillips wrote in an email to Contra County health officer Dr. Chris Farnitano that Phillips posted on his Facebook page Friday. “We education leaders are not public health experts. We look to you for bold leadership as our public health officer.”
Phillips asked Farnitano to exercise his legal authority “to issue official guidance or orders regarding a COVID vaccine mandate for all schools in our county as you said you would.” In his Facebook post, Phillips said Farnitano had previously sent him a letter in support of a possible vaccine mandate.
The request came two days after the school board was expected to discuss whether to mandate that all students over 12 be vaccinated. But Superintendent Chris Hurst postponed the discussion, saying more research was needed before the board could take up the issue.
Asked about his plan as he left his office in Richmond on Friday, Hurst declined to give details, saying only, “I do have a recommendation, a strong recommendation, and belief about the mandate.”
On July 22, Contra Costa Health Services released a statement strongly encouraging employers to implement a vaccine mandate.
“Workers who are unvaccinated against COVID-19 pose a substantial health and financial risk to the workplace,” Farnitano said at the time. “Most importantly, workplace exposures have led to serious illnesses and deaths.”
In August, WCCUSD teachers filed a state workplace complaint, saying that the district has ignored their safety concerns for weeks. Teachers overwhelmingly support a mandate, according to Marissa Glidden, president of the United Teachers of Richmond.
Parents, however, are split, with some seeing it as a parental rights issue and others saying they are concerned about the vaccine’s safety.
This story will be updated.
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