Vaccination or Weekly Testing Mandatory at West Contra Costa Schools, as District Reopens 100% In-Person

Thomas Smith

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The West Contra Costa Unified School district announced via a tweet and a post to the district website late Wednesday evening that schools would reopen 100% in person this fall, but that vaccination against Covid-19 or weekly Covid-19 tests would be required for all students and staff members.

According to an infographic published by the district, a Covid-19 vaccine is “required for employees, or weekly testing”. The infographic also states “Cadence testing increased to once a week for unvaccinated student (sic) and staff”.

“The health and safety of WCCUSD students and staff is our top priority”, the district said in their update. “We are shifting and following the State’s and Contra Costa County Health Services recommendations.” The district said on its website that resources would be provided to assist with reopening, including “additional counselors, mental health services, custodians, CSO’s, etc.”

A handbook released by the district provides additional details about Covid-19 policies. According to the handbook, the district has implemented safety protocols including “universal masking for students and staff regardless of vaccination status, getting the Covid-19 vaccine if eligible, reminding students and staff to frequently wash their hands, staying home if students or staff are sick, regular cleaning and disinfecting, upgrading our HVAC filters, preparing classrooms and common areas with visual markers, posting signs across campus, and installing plexiglass barriers in WCCUSD school offices.”

Additional requirements for visitors and volunteers were listed in the handbook, as well as details about updates to ventilation systems and other infrastructure. Beyond the reference to “getting the Covid-19 vaccine”, little additional information was provided in the handbook regarding the specifics of the district’s vaccination requirements. The only information specifically addressing vaccination or testing appeared to be in the tweet and infographic shared by the district. Presumably, more details will be provided as specific plans are made.

Some parents of WCCUSD students hailed the decision as a positive one. Others expressed concern about the requirement for 100% in-person learning. One parent said that “WCCUSD makes no exceptions” to this rule, and said that it negatively impacts their child, a “pediatric cancer survivor”.

Others appeared to feel that the measures announced by the district didn’t go far enough. Presumably, concerns center around the option for weekly testing in place of vaccines. One person wrote that they “expected a TRUE MANDATE”, citing an undisclosed email they had received, allegedly from the district.

The WCCUSD covers the cities of El Cerrito, Richmond, San Pablo, Pinole, and Hercules and the unincorporated areas of Bayview-Montalvin Manor, East Richmond Heights, El Sobrante, Kensington, North Richmond, and Tara Hills. The decisions of the district around masking, vaccines and more have the potential to impact thousands of students.

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Thomas Smith is an award winning entrepreneur, and the co-founder and CEO of Gado Images. Thomas writes, speaks and consults about artificial intelligence, privacy, food, photography, tech, and the San Francisco Bay Area. As a professional photographer, Thomas' photographic work regularly appears in publications worldwide. Pitches/news tips: tom@gadoimages.com

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