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Survey shows most CPS parents don't support a proposed student vaccine mandate

A majority of parents within Cincinnati Public Schools are not supportive of a proposed COVID-19 vaccine mandate for students.

The CPS Board of Education discussed the proposed mandate during Monday's regular business meeting. According to a CPS survey, 66% of parents who responded do not support a mandate.

Board member Eve Bolton says she doesn't believe it's the board's role to make this decision for the families.

"I think that we should do everything that we can possibly do to facilitate as many of our children getting vaccinated," Bolton says. "I think, too, it was our role to insist that employees be vaccinated so that we could keep our schools open."

Board President Carolyn Jones agreed with Bolton, but brought up her concerns of students having to quarantine following extracurricular activities.

"Extracurriculars are a privilege, they're not necessarily required," Jones said. "We may want to think, is there anything different about that, or should we be doing something about that?"

During public comment, Walnut Hills parent Edward Allie voiced his opposition to the proposed mandate. While he and his family members are vaccinated, he believes families should decide for themselves whether or not to get the shot.

"I advise all parents to vaccinate their children, but I understand that there are many who are really concerned about it, not due to vaccine conspiracy theories, but just due to normal parental worry," Allie said.

The survey went to 22,285 families across all schools in the district; CPS received 6,083 responses, or 26.92%.

    Across all school levels (preschool, elementary and high school), 66% of respondents do not support a mandatory student vaccination.
    Families from Title I schools, which have a higher percentage of low-income students, have higher rates of disapproval:

    • 51.8% of Non-Title I families are opposed to a student mandate
    • 76.5% of Title I families are opposed to a student mandate

    The proposed student vaccine mandate will be discussed again Thursday at 9 a.m. during the Policy and Equity Committee meeting.
    Discussions began on a student vaccine policy just weeks after one was approved for employees and co-located partners. According to the policy draft, "vaccine-eligible students" means all students able to receive a COVID-19 vaccine that has received full approval from the Food and Drug Administration. The Pfizer vaccine has only been fully approved for people ages 16 and older. However, emergency use has been approved for people as young as 5 years old.

    All students would need to be vaccinated or claim a religious or medical exemption. Students who are unable or unwilling to receive vaccinations would be required to submit a negative COVID-19 test every seven days. All student vaccine information would be kept confidential.

    More than 3,800 students and staff have tested positive for COVID-19 within the district since May 2020. Of those, 2,844 of those positive cases are students.

    Cory Sharber attended Murray State University majoring in journalism and political science and comes to Cincinnati Public Radio from NPR Member station WKMS.