Samuel Case, FISM News
The bill’s express intention is to “prohibit the use of Federal and local funds to impose or enforce a COVID–19 vaccine mandate in District of Columbia schools, and to repeal the Coronavirus Immunization of School Students and Early Childhood Workers Regulation Amendment Act of 2021 enacted by the District of Columbia Council.”
The 2021 legislation, which is scheduled to go into effect later this school year, requires all students in public, charter, and private schools ages 12 and up to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, in addition to all other required vaccines, in order to attend school. Students who refuse to comply will not be permitted to attend classes, and online learning will not be available.
Senator Cruz described the D.C. mandate as a “racist” policy that disproportionately harms black students, as about 85% of all D.C. residents aged 12-15 have received the vaccine, but only 60% of black children in the same age range have gotten their shots.
“D.C. schools have already postponed enforcement of this racist policy until 2023 and they should simply scrap it. Until they do, I will fight for the students of D.C. and work to end this mandate,” Cruz said.
D.C. backed off enforcing the mandate at the beginning of the school year when there was a strong pushback from parents as thousands of children would have been left unschooled since the city had no alternative schooling options in place. The mandate is now set to go into effect on Jan. 3, 2023.
As FISM previously reported, the lockdowns and remote learning caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns have increased chronic absenteeism and negatively affected students’ behavior and mental health. Minority and low-income students in particular have seen major learning losses.
Senator Blackburn emphasized that the COVID-19 vaccine should be a choice, not something to be forced by the government.
“Right here in our nation’s capital, leaders are depriving students of a basic education if they don’t comply with the District’s highly-politicized vaccine mandate,” Blackburn said. “Getting vaccinated should be a decision between a patient, parent, and doctor – not politicians pressured by big teachers’ unions and radical activists.”
The legislation is supported by Senators Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), and Roger Marshall (R-Kan.).