By Anne Dachel
SB 277: "This new law has a lot of parents in a total uproar," and it's turned school administrators into the vaccine police. And since school funding is based on enrollment, districts could lose hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Forcing parents to home school sounds like a violation of a child's right to a free and appropriate education.
The second story is from the San Francisco Chronicle and it's truly frightening. A child who "became unresponsive for nine days after her first ... Tdap, shot when she was a baby" was granted only a one-year medical exemption. Her sister, who's entering kindergarten, couldn't get one.
Aug 25, 2016, Humboldt County (CA) North Coast Journal: Prepare for Impact [of SB277]
A new vaccination law has school administrators caught between a needle and a hard place
As the first day of school approaches, there's an anxiety building in many administrative offices throughout Humboldt County. The anxiety doesn't seem to be pervasive, but cloistered in different pockets throughout the region. And it centers around a simple question: Will students show up?...
"We have to wait and see how it shakes out," said Stephanie Steffano-Davis, principal of Whitethorn Elementary. "But at this point, what I'm hearing is that vaccination is an issue for a lot of people and they're looking at alternatives. A lot of people are looking at alternatives to public education."
With a new state law on the books that mandates that just about every child in California be fully vaccinated for 10 communicable diseases before attending school, some, like Steffano-Davis, are worried about the impacts. And they could be dramatic. Humboldt County, which ranked 52nd of California's 58 counties in vaccination rates for incoming kindergarteners last school year, when 10.4 percent of Humboldt's 1,741 kids entered school with a personal belief exemption (PBE) that sidestepped mandatory vaccinations....
Take Tenae LaPorte, who has quit her job in a local dermatologist's office to homeschool her children. She had planned on sending them to Fieldbrook Elementary but is dead set against vaccinating them. ...
But the bill also did something many in the public didn't expect: It put schools on the front lines of California's immunization war. Because the Legislature didn't want to fund an enforcement mechanism, it simply made vaccinations a condition of education and forced administrators to be the gatekeepers.
"We are very frustrated that we are now the immunization police," said Julia Anderson, the executive director of Beginnings in Briceland, which includes Skyfish elementary school and a child care center. "This new law has a lot of parents in a total uproar."
While the new law may have parents in some communities in an uproar, administrators at the schools that will potentially face the biggest impacts don't seem to want to talk about it. Scores of calls and emails to administrators at schools with historically large numbers of personal belief exemptions went unreturned. When administrators did reply, the response was generally curt.
"We don't know the impacts yet ... won't know until we see how many students arrive on August 25th," wrote Catherine Scott, superintendent of Southern Humboldt Unified School District, in an email....
It's not difficult to understand why administrators would be on edge given what's at stake. In California, school funding is tightly tied to enrollment and attendance. That means parents' deciding that homeschooling their children is preferable to vaccinating them has a direct impact on school budgets and, consequently, staffing.
Aug 22, 2016, San Francisco Chronicle: Thousands start school without vaccinations as new law rolls out
...San Francisco mom Adrienne Moore, who fought the law, spent months trying to get a medical exemption for her kindergartner.
Moore said her daughter became unresponsive for nine days after her first tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis, or Tdap, shot when she was a baby. Before school started last week, she said, her doctor agreed to support a one-year medical exemption.
Moore’s second daughter, who would start kindergarten next year, has no exemption. If it’s a choice between vaccines and homeschooling, the mom said her girls would stay home.
The law is still subject to a court battle, and a federal judge in San Diego is expected to rule this week on whether to delay it while a legal challenge proceeds. A lawsuit filed by an antivaccination group, Education 4 All, charges that the law violates the right to an education under California’s constitution.
Anne Dachel is Media Editor for Age of Autism.