COVID-19 vaccine mandate lies in district hands


Inaaya Omer

Health personnel operate Carlmont’s on-campus COVID-19 testing area.

In the late 1960s, it was a question of seatbelts versus personal rights. Today’s circumstances pose the same question, but with vaccines. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), millions of people in the U.S. have received COVID-19 vaccinations, which have undergone some of the most intensive safety monitoring in U.S. history. At Carlmont, there have been multiple safety measures put in place, such as a mask mandate. However, one question remains: will there be a mandate for students to get vaccinated against COVID-19?

“Science has shown that people with the vaccination are less likely to contract COVID-19, and if they do, their symptoms are not as severe,” Principal Ralph Crame said. 

Crame believes that those who are eligible to get vaccinated against COVID-19 should do so; he also said he would support a vaccine mandate if the school district decides to implement one. Administrative Vice Principal Grant Steunenberg agreed with Crame on this point.

“I think it’s a wonderful choice for us to have the ability to take the vaccine if we can do so,” Steunenberg said.

In addition to members of Carlmont’s administration, students like sophomore Swaraa Joshi also support the notion of a vaccine mandate at school.

“I am a big supporter of the COVID-19 vaccine. If you are eligible for the vaccine, take the vaccine,” Joshi said. “If Carlmont keeps their mask mandate in place, I do not think that a vaccine mandate would be necessary, although I would be in support of a vaccine mandate.”

Ultimately, the decision for a vaccine mandate lies in the hands of the Sequoia Union High School District (SUHSD), which has sought out state vaccination rules. Superintendent Dr. Darnise Williams and San Mateo County Superintendent Nancy Magee signed a letter written to California Governor Gavin Newsom as a request for him and other officials to work on a COVID-19 vaccine mandate and to add it to the list of required immunizations to register for school.

“Allow educators to do what we do best, educating students. Under the current system, school districts are forced to act as medical experts while also being put squarely in the middle of political divides,” the letter read.

Steunenberg understood why some would oppose a vaccine mandate, but also pointed out that if SUHSD implemented one, it would hold everyone accountable for protecting their peers. 

“I think anything that a person puts into their bodies is a personal choice,” Steunenberg said. “Many would argue that mandating a vaccine goes against a person’s rights, but at the same time, there is a certain responsibility we all have for public health and safety.”