Saugus parents say COVID-19 vaccination should be their choice

Saugus Union School District leaders gather at a meeting of the governing board. (SIGNAL FILE PHOTO)
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In the Saugus Union School District, some parents concerned about the COVID-19 vaccination feel like their governing board has not listened, so they have formed the Committee to Support Parental Engagement in Santa Clarita Valley.  

“I’m here today to respectfully request a resolution,” said Jacqueline Rivera, whose child is a student in the Saugus district, during a special board meeting on Tuesday night. “My daughter is one of the brave children who on Oct. 19 asked for you to advocate for children like her.”  

Parents want their children to learn in person and many parents are pro-choice for the COVID-19 vaccine, Rivera added.   

“If we have no other options, we will have to remove our children from the (Saugus) district,” Rivera said.   

Rivera, along with mothers Karen Widman and Terri Wheatley, presented a written resolution to the governing board. They hope the board includes and discusses this in the next board meeting on Dec. 14. 

Rivera and Widman cofounded the organization, CSPE of SCV. They described it as a “nonpartisan group of concerned parents, grandparents and guardians for their children.”  

“We are a parent group that is going to be coming to the next meetings and ask respectfully for our board to listen to our concerns,” Widman said.   

According to parents, they oppose Gov. Gavin Newsom’s announcement that K-12 students must be vaccinate against COVID-19 as a requirement for in-person instruction for the term following full U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval of a vaccine for their age groups. 

Widman said some parents of the Saugus district feel the governing board has not listened to their concerns. The governing board has been slow to take action in passing a resolution similar to the ones passed by the William S. Hart Union High School District and Newhall School District, asking the governor to rescind that requirement, added Widman.  

The women said the committee will serve other parents from across the SCV whether in the Hart district, Newhall district, Castaic Union School District or Sulphur Springs Union School District.   

Eventually, the committee will be a source of education for parents, Wheatley said. She added the committee plans to inform parents of board meetings and knowledge to engage school boards. 

Rivera, Widman and Wheatley said the committee will not be disruptive or aggressive. But they will work toward aligning the Saugus district’s governing board with other school districts on this subject.   

“We, and many other parents, don’t feel comfortable (vaccinating our children). It should be a parental choice,” Widman said. “Our committee is not anti-vax.”  

According to the Saugus district website, the special board meeting was available to the public for a brief time as the remainder of the meeting followed closed-session protocols to discuss labor negotiations with the Saugus Teachers Association and the California School Employees Association, Chapter 112. The governing board also conducted a public employee performance evaluation for Superintendent Colleen Hawkins.   

Saugus district representatives were unable for comment before publication of this article. However, Hawkins has previously said the board would consider discussing a resolution in the future.  

The next Saugus board meeting is scheduled Dec. 14 at 6:30 p.m. in the Education Center located at 24930 Avenue Stanford, Santa Clarita. 

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