Students should be fully vaccinated before returning to school May 11, 2021 — by Allen Luo Graphic by Joann Zhang Permalink With all Californians age 16 and older eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, many students are in the process of being vaccinated. Vaccines are also undergoing clinical testing for those aged 15 and under, and are expected to be soon OK’d for use in those 12-15. With vaccines being widely available, there will be few valid excuses for not getting vaccinated and public high schools should require proof of vaccination before classes begin in August. Widespread vaccination of those on campus is the surest way to prevent the spread of the virus. This spring, there have been several cases of COVID-19 in sports cohorts alone — a number that will only rise if the whole student body is attending school in-person. A full return to normalcy will require an absolute assurance that an outbreak will not occur again, and requiring vaccinations is one of the only foolproof ways to do so. Masks, social distancing and cleaning surfaces can only do so much with more than 1,300 people on campus at once, including teachers and staff. With mandated vaccinations, parents can also feel safe about letting their children go to school. It allows for peace of mind in a time where the shift back to an in-person environment can be hectic and stressful. Arguments against mandatory vaccinations largely cite privacy concerns and assertions of personal liberty. For attending school, though, this is not an issue. Schools already require students to be vaccinated for multiple diseases, including tetanus, measles and polio, and show proof of it before entering the classroom. The COVID-19 vaccine will only be another item on that list. Colleges such as the UC system and most private schools are also requiring proof of vaccination in the fall. Additionally, public schools should provide students with information on how to book vaccination appointments. Because of the current high demand, information about local vaccination sites, the vaccination process and general vaccine education would benefit many students. For those who refuse to be vaccinated, an alternate form of schooling could be provided. Those staying at home could attend a separate, all-remote program so that teachers don’t have to switch between remote and in-person or simulcast. Additionally, those who choose not to be vaccinated should be barred from in-person club activities and sports, as interacting with others would pose a health risk to themselves and those around them. Of course, students who do not get the vaccine for medical or religious reasons will be exempt, given that they can provide proof. Ultimately, all students should try to vaccinate themselves as soon as possible so that safety can be ensured during the return to normal schooling.