Parents and students opposing California’s soon-to-be state mandate requiring students to have the COVID-19 vaccine to attend in-person classes rallied Monday morning in front of Chino Valley Unified school district headquarters in Chino as part of a planned statewide walkout.

The crowd of approximately 300 gathered in front of the district headquarters on Riverside Drive, carrying signs and American flags. 

A sound system was set up to play songs such as “God Bless America” and “God Bless the USA.” 

Many of the parents at Monday’s rally said they are not against the vaccines, but the mandates being imposed by the state. 

“We are all for people to take the vaccine, but no one should be forced,” said parent Sonja Shaw. “We have friends and family who have gotten the vaccine, and that’s awesome, but give everybody a choice. And don’t take away basic things that we should have access to like schools, and shopping, and require us to show a vaccine passport to go to school.” 

Similar rallies were held in Huntington Beach, Los Angeles, Redlands, San Diego and Sacramento. 

Chino Valley Unified school board President Joe Schaffer said Wednesday the district will follow the state’s recommended mandates and that the board voted 3-2 last month against a resolution from board member Andrew Cruz to oppose any state mandates. 

More than two dozen speakers attending Thursday’s school board meeting held at Don Lugo High in Chino spoke in opposition of the vaccine mandates, demanding the board not force students to get the COVID-19 vaccine to go to school. 

Several others spoke in favor of the mandates, drawing some negative comments from the crowd in attendance. 

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Oct. 1 that California will become the first state in the nation to add the COVID-19 vaccine to the list of 10 vaccinations required to attend school that could be enforced as early as January but will likely be pushed back to July before the start of the 2022-23 school year.

The governor said the  requirement will not apply to any COVID-19 vaccine not fully approved to the FDA.

Unvaccinated students have the option to enroll in independent study, the governor said.

Exemptions for medical reasons or personal beliefs may be granted.

As of Oct. 15, all teachers and staff working in K-12 schools were required to receive the COVID-19 vaccine or submit to weekly testing, but the testing option will soon be eliminated, Gov. Newsom said.

The vaccine mandates for students and staff have been endorsed by the California State PTA, American Federation of Teachers, California Federation of Teachers, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, the California School Boards Association, the California School Employees Association, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, Kaiser Permanente Chair and Chief Executive Officer Greg Adams and California Medical Association president Richard Barrera. 

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