Can you pass this quick quiz?
What do you think is most important to parents?
Keeping their child safe and healthy.
Their child earning good grades.
Their child making friends in school.
All three are important, but hands down, “Keeping their child safe and healthy” is the choice.
That’s why California’s Safety Measures for K-12 schools are so important. Everyone wants to keep children safe so kids can focus on learning, which can lead to better grades and making friends in school.
Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 and wearing a mask when it can protect you and others help keep our children safe and healthy. Our state’s bold school health and safety measures, as well as COVID-19 vaccines for adults and students, provide essential layers of protection that help save lives.
California’s public schools — including those in the Stockton area — are safer than most schools in the nation because safety practices are working.
COVID-19 has sickened more than 4.6 million Californians, nearly 15 percent of whom are under age 18. More than 70,000 of our community members have died — nearly 1,800 in San Joaquin County alone.
Unfortunately, some of our most vulnerable populations are targeted with misinformation/disinformation, such as “the vaccine is not safe” or “it can harm child development,” and this has a devastating impact. These false narratives account for lower-than-needed vaccination rates in San Joaquin County, especially among Latinos, where just 42 percent of the population has been vaccinated.
Let’s be clear. False narratives are not facts and are not based on research. They do not reflect a parent’s wish to keep their children safe. Misinformation is helping spread the deadly virus and causing preventable deaths.
California’s decisions are guided by the state’s leading doctors and data, both of which point to vaccination as the most important tool to keep our children healthy and end the pandemic. That’s why California was the first state in the nation to require school masking and staff vaccinations and to add the COVID-19 vaccine to the list of required vaccinations for students once it receives full approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
We’ve seen undeniable success. COVID-19 screenings, proper ventilation, frequent handwashing, contact tracing, and disinfection practices all contribute to stopping the spread of the virus before it can disrupt in-person instruction and put our kids at risk.
Research shows that increased school attendance correlates to increased student success. This is true at every age, in every subject and every racial and ethnic group. Scientific review also found that social isolation and loneliness caused by not attending school in-person has created a mental health crisis. Children need the social interaction that in-person attendance provides.
Parents are key to keeping our schools safe – especially as we head into the winter months. Last year’s winter surge was devastating with 18,815 Californians’ lives lost in January alone. A parent’s decision to have their children vaccinated is a key part of school safety.
Get vaccinated to protect your child and family. Get your child vaccinated. Talk to your kids about the importance of wearing a mask and washing their hands. Rely on facts.
It’s time to ask, “Am I doing everything I can to keep my child safer at school?” What’s your answer?
If you have questions about how schools are preventing the spread of COVID-19, go to Safe Schools for All. You can also visit VaccinateALL58.com for facts about the vaccine. To make an appointment or find a walk-in vaccination site near you, contact your local pharmacy, or visit MyTurn.ca.gov.
Carol Kocivar is a past president of the California PTA.
This article originally appeared on The Record: Guest View: California’s Safety Measures for COVID-19 keeps kids safe