Teachers object to vaccine mandate at district school board meetings in Bakersfield


BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Parents and teachers continue to fill school district board meetings to voice their frustrations with the vaccine and mask mandates.

More than 30 teachers and parents went before the Norris School board to fight the vaccine and mask mandates in schools Wednesday evening. They want the board to go against the governor’s new rule, even if it means possible fines and jail time.

“You can create a change,” Lisa Smith a teacher at Norris Elementary said. “It may come with pain and consequences, it may cost some money, it may cost you pride but there is always a price to pay for a good outcome.”

The majority of people who attended the meeting were teachers. They said if the vaccine mandate is enforced, the district, which has more than 4,000 students, will lose dozens of dedicated educators.

“We reluctantly agreed to weekly testing in order to keep our jobs,” Melissa Bangle a teacher at Norris Elementary said. “We’ve been made to feel expendable based on our vaccinated status.”

Other teachers requested for the board to delay enforcement of the mandate so that students wouldn’t be separated from their teachers.

“I ask from the deepest part of my being that if this mandate goes into effect before the end of the school year that you at least put off requiring it until at least next school year,” Brooklyn VanderVeen another teacher at Norris Elementary said. “These students have been through more than enough. They deserve to have their teacher for an entire year.”

The same sentiment was echoed at the Panama Buena Vista Union School board meeting Tuesday evening. At the meeting more than 50 parents and teachers filled the room.

17News noticed several of those in attendance have also been to meetings in other school districts, to protest the vaccine mandate.

Superintendent Katie Russell told parents she wants to give students and staff a safe learning environment. Even though some parents say those decision shouldn’t be left to the school’s to decide.

“Wearing a mask or not wearing a mask, taking an experimental vaccine or not taking it, these are decisions that families make not the government,” Kathleen Thomas a parent said.

Panama Buena Vista School Union School District is the third largest district in Bakersfield, with more than 18,000 students.

The Kern County Superintendent of Schools office says there could be an opt out option for parents not wanting to vaccinate their kids depending on the status of legislation.

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