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West Contra Costa School Board Votes to Mandate Vaccine for Staff and Students

RICHMOND (KPIX) -- The West Contra Costa Unified School District voted on whether or not to mandate COVID-19 vaccination but the controversy wasn't just about the mandate.

The school board broke the issue down into three motions: 1) a vaccine mandate for staff, board members and volunteers 2) vaccination requirement for vendors and 3) vaccinations for students.

The first two passed easily but the thornier issue was mandating vaccines for students. Late Thursday night, the board passed the mandate for students as well.

Parents lined up at DeJean Middle School in Richmond hoping to attend the in-person board meeting.

"I'm here as a concerned parent. Why not let me in?" said Tanika Rhodes.

Rhodes missed the 3 p.m. deadline Thursday to register to attend the meeting. She said her oldest daughter is vaccinated but wants more time to decide whether or not the shot is right for her youngest child.

"I feel like as a parent and that's my child. Let me make that decision. Allow me to make the decision," Rhodes said.

While most of the chairs remained empty during the board meeting, many called in on Zoom to share their opinions. One speaker pleaded, "Please pass this mandate. We need the mandate to keep the teachers and students safe."

According WCCUSD, the vaccine mandate is just another layer of protection for everyone.

"It's really about our students and our staff and creating a safe and healthy learning environment for them," said Dr. Kenneth Chris Hurst, the West Contra Costa Unified School District superintendent.

The students who decide not to get vaccinated have two options. To either attend Vista's independent study program or virtual school.

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