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County Health Officer Supports COVID Vaccination Requirement In West Contra Costa Unified Schools

RICHMOND (CBS SF) -- Contra Costa County Health officer Dr. Chris Farnitano added his voice Friday to those supporting a proposal that all eligible students, teachers and staff in the West Contra Costa Unified School District be required to show proof of a COVID-19 vaccination.

School board members Demetrio Gonzalez-Hoy and Otheree Christian say they will bring a resolution to the board at a special meeting Tuesday calling for the mandate to be issued for the district which serves more than 28,000 students in Richmond, El Cerrito, Hercules, Pinole, San Pablo and several unincorporated areas.

In a letter to the board made public Friday, Farnitano said the neighborhoods surrounding the schools have been hit particularly hard by COVID-19.

"The communities served by your district have suffered a disproportionate impact from the COVID-19 pandemic, with higher rates of illness, hospitalization and death than the county as whole," Farnitano wrote. "Vaccination is the best method we have to prevent transmission of COVID-19 to teachers, staff, students, the families of students and staff and the wider community."

READ MORE: Read County Health Officer Dr. Chris Farnitano Letter To WCCSD Board

If approved, the district would become the first in Northern California to issue one of the toughest anti-COVID mandates. Recently, the public school systems in Los Angeles — the second largest in the U.S. — and Culver City began requiring shots for eligible students.

The mandate would give students ages 12 and older until Oct. 3 to get their first vaccine dose and until Oct. 31 to get their second. Students who will turn 12 during the school year will have a month after their birthday to get vaccinated.

Without an exemption for religious or medical reasons, students will have to enroll in the district's virtual academy if they don't comply.

Last week, the district had 49 COVID cases -- eight staff members and 41 students.

Meanwhile, board members for Oakland's school district, which serves about 50,000 students, plan to take up a similar proposal Wednesday.

The majority of Oakland Unified's seven board members support the mandate, but others have reservations about potentially pushing students out of the classroom.

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