On Oct. 1, 2021, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced all students will be required to have the COVID-19 vaccine to attend in-person school in California. When the vaccine gains complete FDA approval for students, the mandate will be enacted, making California the first state to require this vaccine for its students. California schools should require students to be vaccinated due to the many advantages, such as a potential change to the mask mandate in schools.
California does not have any outdoor mask mandates as of now. However, specific rules default to local officials and school districts. While wearing masks are effective, vaccines have been shown to decrease infectivity by 91 percent, rendering masks outside obsolete. Although masks are important and successful in preventing the spread of COVID-19, masks have become greatly tied to the pandemic and removing the requirement for them would be a great step forward.
Since two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine can provide 91 percent infection immunity, herd immunity within schools would greatly reduce the chance of a mass outbreak. A mass outbreak would lead the school to close for at least two weeks and would force students and staff to return to distance learning. A study by Columbia University showed that some students in online school had a 7 percent increase in dropping out of a course and an overall grade drop of 0.3 points on a four-point scale. With the quarter coming to a close, the effects of a sudden return to distance learning could be drastic, and many students could expect a dip in their overall GPA within the weeks or months of isolation.
One of the biggest impacts that COVID-19 has had on in-person learning is the restrictions on school events. The well-anticipated Homecoming dance, the first dance of the year, was cancelled due to the risk of COVID. Cancelling dances would most likely not happen if students were required to be vaccinated.
COVID-19 came as a curveball and has stayed as a pressing matter on the world’s agenda. Everyone must band together to eliminate it. Those who support anti-vaccination movements must be held accountable for spreading misinformation. Local, state and federal officials must support preventative regulations and go out of their way to encourage vaccinations. California’s vaccination mandate serves as a method to take the state out of the vicious COVID cycle it has been in for a long time.