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Kern County school districts saw a decline in attendance Monday

School Vaccine Mandate Protest, Bakersfield
Posted at 10:14 PM, Oct 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-19 02:50:03-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Monday was known as the statewide walkout, in protest of vaccine mandates in California. Several schools saw numbers of students not in class today, as some of them among parents and others voiced their disagreement over rules put into place.

Thousands of students statewide were out of class today, and some schools in Kern County saw a significant decrease in class size compared to previous weeks. While others say they saw no difference at all.

From northern California all the way down to SoCal thousands protested a statewide COVID-19 vaccine mandate in schools. The mandate could take effect as early as January of next year following full FDA approval for children.

One mother in Kern County took a stand against mandates.

“We want to be very clear on this point. Some of us are vaccinated some of us are not. But this is the thing we agree on. It shouldn’t be mandated. This should be a decision parents decide for themselves. To work with their own pediatricians & make the best decision for their family,” said Stephanie Villafranca.

Villafranca was one of the hundreds protesting outside Kern County schools on Monday.

Some of the schools locally felt some of those impacts from the planned statewide “walkout."

The Kern High School District told 23ABC that nearly 21% of their 42,000 students did not show up to class on Monday. Whereas last week during this time that number was near 7%.

Officials with the Panama Buena Vista Union School District said they did not see any changes in student or staffing attendance.

The Norris School District saw a 68.6% attendance rate today whereas last Monday that number was more than 94%.

Robert Meszaros with the Kern County Superintendent of schools told 23ABC in a statement at vaccine requirements are not new.

“Requiring vaccinations to attend school is not a new concept. There have been requirements in both public and private schools for decades,” said Meszaros. “These mandates are not being made at the local level or by the schools. Decisions are made by the state and schools have a legal obligation to uphold them.”

But Villafranca said she feels different about the COVID-19 vaccine than others that have been around for years.

“The difference it’s brand new. This is a new vaccine. We don’t know the long-term effects/side effects,” said Villafranco.

Meszaros said as of now there will be a personal belief exemption. So, parents could opt-out if they choose and that this will remain true unless the state legislature votes otherwise.

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