Granada mandates the vaccine in hopes of returning to normal

By Jasmine Kim

Granada Hills Charter (GHC) implemented a vaccine mandate for students 12 and older that will be in place with the spring semester beginning January 11, 2022. GHC is similar to the vaccine mandate put into place by the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) for all of its campuses and charters co-located on LAUSD property.

GHC required all students to submit proof of the first vaccine dose by Friday, November 19. To remain in in-person learning, all age-eligible students must be fully vaccinated by the first day of the spring semester, January 11, 2022. “Fully-vaccinated” refers to an individual who has received the first and second doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or in the case of Johnson & Johnson, the single required dose and has completed the two-week period that follows to ensure maximum immunity.

To date, Granada has implemented safety measures, such as mandating masks, weekly COVID tests, and contact tracing. 

By the November 19 deadline, 4,435 students, which is around 90 percent of the student population, had submitted a vaccine card with at least the first dose. Medical professionals have verified the vaccine cards to make sure that they are official.

Unvaccinated students were given the option to apply to iGranada, also known as independent study. However, unlike the traditional iGranada program, students will not be able to participate in any school activities, including graduation. Currently, 185 students have applied to transfer to this program. Students who did not submit proof of vaccination, an application for independent study, or a medical exemption on or before November 19, risk disenrollment from the entire system and will need to seek other educational opportunities. 

“I’m really excited about being at home because I don’t have to wake up early since I’m not vaccinated. However, I’m really upset that I won’t be able to see my friends, and it’s also much harder to study by myself,” sophomore Tigran Arutyunyan said.

Once vaccinated, students are able to request to move back to in-person classes, but seats are not guaranteed due to the limited capacity in classrooms.

A recent study conducted by a research team at Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) concluded that vaccination provides a higher level of immunity against COVID-19. Unvaccinated people with a prior infection within three to six months were about 5.5 times more likely to have the virus than those who were fully vaccinated within three to six months with the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. Similar results were found when looking at the months where other COVID variants such as Delta were the most prevalent.

“I look at vaccination as a community duty to protect your friends and everyone you know from getting sick. That’s what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to return to normal as safely as possible. We want to reduce the time students and staff have to wear masks when the County agrees. We want to have guest speakers on campus. We want to have prom. We want to have a homecoming. The only way to do that is for everyone to get vaccinated,” Administrative Director Julia Howelman said.

GHC has been supportive of students and parents during this process. The administration sent out daily emails informing families about vaccine due dates, vaccine options, and vaccination clinics. Much time was put into phone calls to provide answers and information to parents who either had questions or complaints.

Still, parents, community members, and even former teachers were seen protesting against the vaccine mandate imposed by the school. There were dozens of people outside the school with picket signs and blow horns at the crosswalk on Zelzah Avenue and San Jose Street both before and after school on several days. Signs touted ideas such as “My child, my choice.” There were several community members honking in agreement as they drove by.

Although the protesters were peaceful and generally did not disrupt the school day, students had to walk through them to exit the school on days when there were protests.