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Parents from around Riverside and state protest vaccine mandate

On Monday, parents from around Riverside and the state kept their children home from school as a form of protest. The parents are protesting the Covid-19 vaccine mandate for public school students issued by Governor Newsom earlier this month. The order would only go into effect after the FDA approval of a vaccine for ages K through six and seven to 12.

Flyers from different online groups have been circulating, encouraging the protest, including from Riverside resident Heather Knapp who runs the Instagram page @Nurses4Freedom with over 60,000 followers.

Knapp and the group Stand Up Riverside will be hosting a “Stop the Mandates Rally” on Thursday, Oct. 21, at 4 p.m. at RUSD’s School Board meeting. In a message she sent on Instagram concerning the Thursday rally, Knapp said the rally was to advocate for parents’ right to choose what is best for their children. She added, “That is not the place of the government.”

On Monday, RUSD School Board President Tom Hunt sent The Raincross Gazette a copy of a resolution that he and his fellow board members unanimously approved to send to Governor Newsom and other state officials. 

In the letter, the board goes over several points in regards to making their own decisions on a local level. They added, “the governing board believes that utilizing local conditions and risk factors in the determination of health and safety protocols will create an incentive for community compliance with reasonable, science-based measures, and allow maintenance of safe learning environments.”

Hunt added, “Riverside Unified has zero power to revoke the mandates made by [Newsom].” Hunt said that the state has put enforcement in the hands of the over one thousand school districts in California, but that they have no constitutional authority to override what rules and guidelines are coming from the state without potential legal repercussions from state authorities.