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Independent Study Program Overwhelmed As Sacramento City Unified Extends Vaccine Mandate Deadline

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Sacramento City Unified is meeting with the city teachers association as the district is pushing back its COVID-19 vaccine mandate by a month.

That mandate was set to take effect next Monday but is now pushed back to February 28. So far, 52% of students report being at least partially vaccinated and thousands still haven't reported their status or registered for routine testing.

So, will this one-month extension lead to more shots in the arm?

To attend class in person, students in district must be vaccinated or registered for regular testing by the end of February. For those who remain unvaccinated, they'll be enrolled in an independent study program.

We asked the district if one more month would really help get those vaccination numbers up?

"This gift of time gives us that ability to do that outreach," the district said.

Since the mandate was delayed Wednesday, the district says the number of unvaccinated students who have consented to testing has risen by nearly 2,000. But the Sacramento City Teachers Association says there's another big issue.

"The problem is, they can't even fill the independent study positions they have now," said teachers association President David Fisher.

Fisher said the independent study program is overwhelmed.

"We still have hundreds of students on a waiting list that have not received any education since the beginning of the year," he said.

The district confirms those numbers saying, currently, independent study has more than 1,100 enrolled with a waitlist just shy of 500.

"I don't think that time is going to solve this problem," said parent Justin McCoy.

McCoy has a fifth grader in the district. He worries the vaccine rates won't change much, even with the extra month.

"The district has already done a good push for vaccinations and they gave a deadline," McCoy said.

With so many vaccine hold-outs still at play, we asked the district if there were concerns about moving forward with the mandate and independent study plan

We were told: "The delay in enforcement isn't based solely on a number...we are hopeful to be able to staff independent study to the demand needed."

Thursday night's meeting will include a proposal to recruit more teachers for independent study.

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