By the New Year state lawmakers head to Sacramento to discuss possible legislation to remove the personal belief exemption from Governor Newsom’s student COVID-19 vaccination mandate. If it were to be removed some argue that it would push thousands of kids out of classrooms and into remote learning further widening the already apparent educational achievement gap that grew during the height of the pandemic. Some districts are addressing the gap currently through new strategies to increase the likelihood of students getting into UC’s and CSU systems that include dropping D and F grades and promoting a model of education that is mastery-based learning. Last month the UC stopped requiring any standardized tests in its admissions process. The possible bill, adds the COVID-19 vaccine to the list of already required immunizations for both public and private school students. Then it would be treated like the other 10 vaccine requirements that don’t allow for a personal belief exemptions. Catherine Martin, Executive Director of the California Immunization Coalition, a public-health advocacy group, said she understands parents concerns but she agrees that the personal belief exemption should be eliminated.
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