California parents, teachers plan statewide walkout to protest school vaccine mandate

California parents and teachers who oppose school vaccine mandates are planning a statewide walkout Monday.

News about the planned protest has spread on social media, with organizers suggesting that parents pull their children out of school and that teachers and staff who support the protest stay home.

California became the first state to mandate vaccinations or coronavirus testing for eligible children to attend in-person classes at public and private schools after Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the requirement Oct. 1. Students who don’t comply will be required to do an independent study. There are medical and personal belief exemptions.

Teachers and staff are also required to get the vaccine or submit to testing.

California becomes first state in nation to announce vaccine requirements for students

After mounting pressure from the community and school boards, California on Friday became the first in the nation to announce to require eligible students to be vaccinated for in-person learning.

The mandate currently affects students in grades 7-12. Those age 12 and older are eligible for the vaccine. 

"Parents and concerned citizens all over CA are taking action against the forced COVID-19 vaccine mandate for our children in state schools. We demand parental choice over the bodily autonomy of our children," a Twitter flyer said, according to the Patch.

Oak Run Elementary in Shasta County plans to cancel classes Monday because of the protest, KRCR-TVCR in Redding, California, reported.

"Parents, educators, and students across the U.S. will engage in peaceful noncompliance activities to remind government officials that individuals should have the final say when it comes to their health," a letter from the school to families reportedly said.

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Residents against the mandate held a rally in Redding on Friday, holding up signs with slogans such as "My body, my choice," "Teach freedom," "Stop the mandate" and "Support parents choice."

The mandate took effect Friday.

"I'm just out here fighting for freedom. I want to see freedom for health care workers. I want to see freedom for educators," Amy Keurentjes, a doctor and mother of five, told the Record Searchlight newspaper in Redding on Friday.

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Protester Katie Gorman told the newspaper the planned walkout was just the beginning. "We can go further and we can take our rights and our responsibilities to educate our own children in the end and we can make that happen as a community."

No estimate of the size of the statewide walkout was reported but word had spread across the state from Northern to Southern California. 

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