‘We’re counting on you for bold leadership’: WCCUSD board chair asks county health worker for vaccine advice
The president of the West Contra Costa Unified School Board is urging the county health official to issue guidance on a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for the school district.
“This is the public health problem of our lives,” Mister Phillips wrote in an email to Contra County health worker Dr Chris Farnitano, which Phillips posted on his Facebook page on Friday. “We education leaders are not public health experts. We are counting on you for bold leadership as a public health official. “
Phillips asked Farnitano to exercise his legal authority “to issue official directives or orders regarding a COVID vaccine mandate for all schools in our county, as you said.” In his Facebook post, Phillips said Farnitano had already sent him a letter in support of a possible vaccination warrant.
The request came two days after the school board was scheduled to discuss whether to require all students over 12 to be immunized. But Superintendent Chris Hurst postponed discussion, saying more research was needed before the board could address the matter.
Asked about his plan as he left his office in Richmond on Friday, Hurst declined to give details, saying only: “I have a recommendation, a strong recommendation and a belief about the mandate.”
On July 22, Contra Costa Health Services issued a statement strongly encouraging employers to implement a vaccination mandate.
“Workers not vaccinated against COVID-19 pose a substantial health and financial risk to the workplace,” Farnitano said at the time. “Most importantly, workplace exposures have resulted in serious illness and death. “
In August, teachers at WCCUSD filed a complaint at the state workplace, claiming the district had ignored their safety concerns for weeks. Teachers overwhelmingly support a mandate, according to Marissa Glidden, president of the United Teachers of Richmond.
Parents, however, are divided, with some seeing it as an issue of parental rights and others saying they are concerned about the safety of the vaccine.
This story will be updated.