California School Walkout as Thousands of Parents Defy Child Vaccine Mandate

Thousands of children will not be in school on Monday as parents protest California Governor Gavin Newsom's COVID-19 vaccine requirement for students, by taking their kids to the state capitol to protest.

In October, Newsom's Office announced that California would be the first state in the U.S. to require school students to be vaccinated following the full FDA approval of the COVID-19 vaccine for grades 7 to 12 and K-6. California also was the first state to implement school mask and staff vaccination mandates.

The "Our Children, Our Choice!" protest will take place at the California State Capitol in Sacramento, at 10 a.m. local time. On the Facebook event, there are more than 1,100 people indicating they are "going" and more than 3,300 who say they are "interested".

Tess Van Dusen, event organizer, said in a statement: "We're fighting for the freedom to make the medical choices that are best for our children. We are fully prepared to pull our kids from public school and hire our own teaching staff if that's what it takes. We do not co-parent with the government."

"The point of this protest is for the right of choice. We have a right to do what is best for our family—that's the bottom line," said Amber Faddis, another protest organizer.

Newsweek has contacted the organizers for more comment.

Delays are expected in the area, and school districts in Sacramento have issued letters and statements to families and parents ahead of the planned walkout.

Twin Rivers Unified School District Superintendent Steve Martinez urged parents not to keep their children out of school.

"Please consider that for 18 long months, the pandemic prevented having our schools open for all students, but now they are back. Please let us continue to educate them, in school and in person," Martinez wrote in a letter.

"They do not need to miss school for voices to be heard. If you have strong feelings against vaccination mandates, consider sending an email or video message to the Governor and writing a letter to your elected representatives."

John Baggett, Colfax Elementary School principal, wrote on Facebook post that the pandemic has made running schools more complicated.

"We understand that families and students may have strong emotions and questions about COVID-19 safety measures, including masks, vaccine, and testing requirements. However, keeping children home from school to protest the potential COVID-19 vaccine requirement, as posts on social media are suggesting, would only result in lost learning time for your child. Our school funding will not be impacted by absences, but your child will be."

In a statement, Gov. Newsom's office defended the vaccine mandates. "This is about protecting our children and school staff and keeping them safely in the classroom. Vaccines work and are how we end the pandemic."

Since the pandemic began, thousands of people have protested Newsom's coronavirus restrictions. A campaign to recall him prompted by his COVID-19 measures failed on September 14, when voters backed him to stay in power.

California Governor Newsom Speaks On State's School
California Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks during a news conference after meeting with students at James Denman Middle School on October 1, 2021 in San Francisco, California.Thousands of children are planning not come into school on October 18 as their parents protest a vaccine mandate for students. Justin Sullivan/Getty