LUCERNE VALLEY, Calif. — The Lucerne Valley Unified School District’s five-member Board of Trustees unanimously voted on Thursday, October 14th to take a stand against mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for its students and staff.
The four-page resolution, which outlines the LVUSD position on vaccination mandates for schools, cites a number of points substantiated by references to court cases. The key points include the trustees belief in parental choice, the lack of legal authority to mandate COVID-19 vaccines, the virus’s low risk to school-aged children, the constitutional protection for people to deny unwanted medical treatment, scientific studies indicating that people who have recovered from COVID- 19 may have “more durable and long-lasting immunity to COVID-19 than individuals with vaccine induced immunity,” and the California constitutional guarantee to a free public education.
Wearing a “For Parent Choice” shirt, board vice-president Jessica Risler said, “I’ll just say that I’m still strictly behind advocacy of parental choice. I think that these are our children and they are our choices to make medical decisions on.”
The following are Lucerne Valley USD’s Board Resolution 2122-10 key points:
— As a public school district, Lucerne Valley Unified School District believes in parental choice. “Thus, LVUSD believes in choice and preserving choice for its staff and students, including when it comes to personal medical decisions.”
— Individual school boards, including LVUSD’s Board, lack legal authority to mandate the COVID- 19 vaccine for students. “An individual public school district Board does not have discretion to condition the admission of its students upon a requirement that the students receive specific additional vaccinations beyond those that are already required under state law.”
— A COVID-19 vaccination mandate is unnecessary. “Children are not generally at risk of hospitalization or death from a COVID-19 infection. Of the 66,000 COVID- 19 deaths in California since January 2020, there have been 33 deaths among children under 18, lower than the typical death rate among children during average flu seasons over a similar time period.”
— A person has a constitutionally protected liberty interest in refusing unwanted medical treatment. “California courts have long held that the right to refuse medical treatment is a constitutionally guaranteed right that must not be abridged.”
— Numerous recent studies support the conclusion that people who have recovered from COVID- 19 may have “more durable and long-lasting immunity to COVID-19 than individuals with vaccine induced immunity.”
— The right of privacy “guarantees to the individual the freedom to choose to reject, or refuse to consent to, intrusions of his bodily integrity.” The right of privacy “guarantees to the individual the freedom to choose to reject, or refuse to consent to, intrusions of his bodily integrity.” (Conservatorship of Wendland (2001) 26 Cal.4th 519, 531-532.)
— The California Constitution guarantees a right to a free public education. Under the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution, “[no] State shall . . . deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” (U.S. Const., amend. XIV.) “The Equal Protection Clause was intended as a restriction on state legislative action inconsistent with elemental constitutional premises.”
Citing four points, the resolution also states LVUSD cannot justify the burden of a COVID-19 mandate to support such a “blatant and serious infringement of its students’ fundamental rights.” First, LVUSD cannot establish that a COVID-19 vaccination requirement reasonably relates to a student’s constitutional right to a free public education. Second, the value of a COVID-19 vaccination mandate for LVUSD students is of little public benefit because children are rarely hospitalized and rarely die from a COVID-19 infection. Third, a mandate appears to disproportionately discriminate against people of color. Therefore, creating racial, ethnic and philosophical issues with the mandate. Fourth, there are available alternative means for LVUSD to continue to provide its students with an in-person education without requiring all students to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
The resolution notes that the LVUSD has operated in-person learning safely since August 20, 2020 without available vaccines for most of that time and without mandates. More than 90% of LVUSD district students were in-person learning. All students returned to a full-time, in-person schedule, and LVUSD has had zero “outbreaks” involving students or staff with over 1,200 staff and students on campus regularly.
On October 1, 2021, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced he is planning on mandating the COVID-19 vaccine for all staff and students for in-person learning by January, 2022 or July, 2022, pending FDA approval. In his announcement, he stated that there will be exemptions for personal belief, religious and medical exemptions. However, the Governor explained that there will be a conversation with the legislators about exemptions.
Despite declining enrollment in many school districts across the state, the Lucerne Valley USD has grown to its largest student population in several years. Currently the small school district located in the rural unincorporated town of Lucerne Valley in California’s High Desert has nearly 1,000 students.
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