Teachers Support Staff Vaccine Mandate—And Some Want One for Students Too

Written by Maia Goel and Emily Olson

Cover image by Justina Wilkins

On August 12th, a state-wide mandate went into effect requiring all school staff to be vaccinated or tested weekly for COVID-19 by October 15th. California is the first state to pass such a requirement, and M-A teachers interviewed and polled were overwhelmingly in favor of it, with some calling for a student mandate too.

According to the district COVID-19 Dashboard, 96.02% of M-A staff are vaccinated, and 97.14% of teachers polled said they are in favor of the vaccination mandate. 

“I’m 100% in favor of it,” said history and psychology teacher Jason Knowles.

Math teacher Steven Kryger agreed, saying, “If I can minimize [students’] exposure, and also minimize my own at the same time, then mandatory [teacher] vaccinations are a no-brainer.”

Only one of 70 polled teachers reported they will opt for weekly testing instead of getting vaccinated. Kryger said, “My hope is that the Teachers’ Union will support the mandate, and will work with teachers, if they do have a religious or health reason, to set something up to get regular testing on the campuses.” 

Despite overwhelming support for the mandate, however, many teachers are still concerned about the spread of COVID-19 on campus. Biology teacher Rachel Richards said, “I know I’m being exposed every day.” 

Independent Living Skills teacher Susan Price said, “I fear that the school will get shut down.” 

In fact, 15 of the 70 teachers polled said the staff vaccine mandate won’t make them feel any safer. Some teachers noted how well students are doing, with Knowles saying, “the students have handled this far better than the adults.” However, many teachers voiced a need for a student vaccine mandate. 

An anonymous teacher wrote, “I don’t think this mandate will make me feel safer because it doesn’t require students to get vaccinated or tested each week, and most of my interactions are with students, and not with other teachers. Students are also not as good about keeping their masks over their noses.”

Price said, “I don’t think you should have a mandate just for students or just for adults; I think it should cut both ways. It’s only fair.” 

Kryger said, “I think just like the other vaccines students have to have, we should mandate [the COVID-19 vaccine] for students.”

Richards explained, “[a student vaccine mandate] is going to help us go back to normal as quickly as possible.”

Price said, “When I was a kid, it was polio. And I remember standing in a line, and everybody wanted that polio vaccine. They were saving their kids. So I don’t know, but I would like it to be like that, where it feels like you’re doing community service by getting your shot.”

As for administration’s plans, Administrative Vice-Principal Stephen Emmi said, “[M-A] won’t enforce [the mandate]. The District will enforce it.” However, he clarified M-A’s role in enforcement, saying, “I’m 100% sure we’ll follow the legislation put out by the District.”

Maia Goel is a senior and a first-year journalist at the M-A Chronicle. She enjoys writing about the M-A community and current events. Outside of school, she likes to dance and spend time with friends.

Emily Olson is a senior at M-A and a first year journalist for the Chronicle. She enjoys writing about students' impressions of what is happening on campus and issues important to the community. In her free time, Emily goes to the beach, watches movies, and spends time with her friends.

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