Over the last year and a half, Children’s Law Center has seen the pandemic disrupt the health, economic stability and education of DC residents. Our own client communities have been deeply impacted by both the virus itself and the disruptions to children’s education. That’s why Policy Director Sharra E. Greer testified before the DC Council sharing our support for the Coronavirus Immunization of School Students and Early Childhood Workers Amendment Act of 2021, which proposes a student vaccine mandate for eligible children. Critically, Sharra also emphasized that DC must make sure the proposed mandate does not have a disparate impact on DC children and families of color and called on the Council to mitigate any unintended, but predictable, harmful consequences of the mandate, including educational disruptions and child welfare involvement.
DCist’s Colleen Grablick covered the bill’s hearing and noted the points raised by Sharra and other advocates:
A D.C. Council bill that would require a COVID-19 vaccination for all eligible students by Dec. 15 is drawing opposition from District officials and health and education advocates.
Concerns over the legislation, introduced earlier this month by At-Large Councilmember Christina Henderson, ranged from its timeline, to its implementation, to equitable vaccine access during a public hearing on Wednesday.
Kihn and other witnesses who testified from Children’s National and the Children’s Law Center on Wednesday — while broadly supportive of vaccinations — worried the timeline was too rushed to begin enforcing the mandate in just a few weeks.
Sharra Greer, testifying on behalf of the Children’s Law Center, argued that pushing through the mandate in a matter of weeks would mean that students who don’t meet the deadline will end up missing school. Instead, the law center recommended delaying enforcement of the mandate until next school year.
“The purpose of the proposed COVID vaccine mandate for students is to help stop community spread and ‘decrease exposures, the need for quarantine, and provision of remote learning, while increasing the efficient and effective operation of schools and child care centers,’” Greer said, quoting directly from the text of the bill. “It is counterproductive to that goal for the mandate itself to cause educational disruptions.”