SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - Despite the clamoring from hundreds of people at a protest before its meeting and during public comment, the San Diego Unified School District's board is moving forward with a vaccine mandate.
"Tonight, I'm making a statement that we believe in the science, we believe in the process and we are serious about this and we want to protect children. And this is the first step,” Dr. Sharon Whitehurst-Payne, Board Vice President of San Diego Unified School District, said.
"I think it cannot be more clear that this is the right move,” Richard Barrera, President of San Diego Unified School District,
San Diego Unified would require all staff and employees to be fully vaccinated by Dec. 20. The plan on the district’s plan also says that it may take disciplinary action, “up to and including termination,” for those who don’t comply with the mandate.
Watch district officials discuss the vote on Wednesday:
The first stage for a student vaccination mandate is for those eligible 16 and older. These students would need to get the first dose by Nov. 29 and the second dose by the Dec. 20 deadline.
It was a unanimous vote from the board that doesn't come as a surprise for those who fought against the mandate.
"This did not feel like a discussion with San Diego Unified. I was actually on the line, called and there were technical difficulties, and I didn't even get to speak publicly during the public comment," Sharon McKeeman, Founder of Let Them Breathe, said. “Which is why parents don't feel heard when the meeting is virtual."
SDUSD school board held the meeting virtually. When it came time for public comment on the item, there were more than 1650 people signed up to speak opposing the item with 83 requesting to speak in favor of it.
Barrera motioned to have the public comment for the agenda item concerning the vaccine mandate extended to an hour from the 20 minutes. He stated that individual agenda items typically have an allotted 20 minutes of public comment allowed and the board voted to approve the extension.
Even though there's been push back, the district hopes to have open communication with parents of students in the district following their decision. Barrera mentioned that having that level of communication with district families is critical as they move forward.
"We do not want to have at the end of moving this police forward, students who are not coming to school not because their parents made a clear choice not to have them vaccinated but because parents didn't get the right information either right time," Barrera said.
Though opponents of the mandate say this isn't their last stand despite the district making its stand on who must get their shots.
“Absolutely not. 'Let Them Breathe' is going to be moving forward with 'Let Them Choose' initiative to stand for choice,” McKeeman said. “They want to be able to make those choices themselves we're working with a winning legal team and we're going to be moving forward with legal action.”