California’s Teacher Vaccine Mandate is Good. We can Still do Better

by Emyr Ortiz
Also Featured on KCBS

California’s Teacher Vaccine Mandate is Good. We can Still do Better

by Emyr Ortiz
Also Featured on KCBS
08.23.21
Photo: Marisol Benitez/Unsplash
08.23.21

The start of my senior year has been marked by a convoluted heaviness. Reaching that milestone is exciting, but a heavy sobering thought remains: is it safe? 

When I heard that California would either be requiring proof of vaccination or regular testing for all school employees, this weight felt lighter. But it wasn’t gone. Another measure still remains to better protect our schools: student vaccine mandates. 

Vaccine mandates for students are not new. California already requires K-12 students like me — with some exemptions — to be vaccinated against certain diseases. Applying this same process to those eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine is not a step too far, it’s a step in the right direction.

With the staff mandate, it’s definitely an improvement to not have to worry about the one person teaching you, but it’s still awfully hard to feel safe when every laugh or sneeze from the other 30 or so people in the room could expose you to a virus that has killed hundreds of thousands nationwide.

I want to see my friends again, play sports, and join clubs; I want to learn again, but it shouldn’t mean putting myself and those I love at unnecessary risk. That’s a heavy weight to carry.