Students across Santa Barbara County are still required to receive vaccinations despite schools opening for distance learning in the fall.
“Nothing has changed in regards to vaccinations,” said Susan Klein-Rothschild, deputy director of community health for the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department. “These rules have been in place for a long time, and they are just remaining in place.”
While upholding the vaccination requirement might have been in question as Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered school districts on the state’s COVID-19 monitoring list to reopen in a virtual setting, there have been no changes to the rules put in place years ago.
“The reason we have vaccinations is to protect the health of children,” Klein-Rothschild said. “Vaccinations are a way of keeping them healthy, so they are important even if kids aren’t in a classroom setting.”
In the months leading up to the start of the school year, county and district workgroups have been regularly meeting to plan for what the fall term may look like, according to Susan Salcido, Santa Barbara County superintendent of schools. Keeping student safety in mind, each weekday will include virtual interaction between teachers and students for instruction, tracking progress and maintaining school connectedness, she said.
“We all want to see students and staff back in our classrooms, meaningfully connecting with one another in person, when it is safe to do so,” Salcido said.
Students admitted at transitional kindergarten/kindergarten through 12th grade are required to receive five sets of vaccinations: diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (Tdap), polio (OPV/IPV), hepatitis B, measles, mumps and rubella (MMR), and varicella (commonly known as chickenpox).
Under the California school immunization law, children are required to receive the vaccinations in order to attend any public and private elementary and secondary school to protect the public’s health.
“Vaccinations are one of the most powerful and positive things that we’ve done in medicine to change people’s lives,” Klein-Rothschild said.
Parents must show the child’s immunization record to the school before any new admission. They must be shown again before a student advances to seventh grade.