Censorship talk overshadows Pasadena’s new unified coronavirus protocols – Pasadena Star News
Pasadena Unified students wishing to continue teaching in-person this year will be required to submit proof of vaccination or consent to a weekly testing regimen similar to that previously put in place for staff.
The new prevention plan is one of several coronavirus-related measures unanimously approved by the school board on Thursday, August 26 before chaos ensued in an often heated conversation about censorship – which led to a direct attack on board member Tina Fredericks.
The meeting is the first since the board refused on August 5 to institute a vaccination mandate, a meeting that included tears and a request for a vote on the matter. The board, however, took no action at the time as board chairman Scott Phelps was on vacation and discussion was not on the agenda.
Fredericks joined parents days later to request a public meeting to discuss mandatory vaccinations. The group had to wait a little longer than expected for discussion, but their wish came true on Thursday when the school board had the opportunity to be one of the first districts to require vaccines for students 16 and over continued to full FDA approval of the Pfizer vaccine on Monday.
The proposal was hampered by potential legal ramifications. As approved, students eligible for the vaccine can get one to come out of weekly coronavirus testing with parental consent. Staff and student-athletes will be subject to similar standards. In addition, the policy requires that all students under the age of 12 take weekly tests with parental consent.
As for those eligible for the vaccine, students and staff will have until October 15 to provide proof of vaccination.
Does it go far enough?
Some fear the decision will not go far enough because, with the option of parental consent, every student in the district could potentially opt out of the plan. The issue of enforcement was also addressed.
“I think we’ll cross that bridge when we get there,” said Academic Director Elizabeth Blanco, adding that most parents thought wearing a mask would be a concern initially, but compliance was not a problem. problem.
Fredericks believes the test plan saves time, “a bit like hovering,” she said, as Pasadena Unified is stuck in testing until the pandemic is over. On the other hand, making vaccinations mandatory would be more cost effective and result in a safer environment for all, she said.
Superintendent Brian McDonald, who was granted emergency clearance this week through December 31, reaffirmed his confidence in the test plan at the meeting..
Conduct or censorship?
One of the few non-coronavirus items on the agenda this week was the ethics of the board of directors, which was put to the test as members expressed disappointment at the decision to Frederick to repeatedly pressure Pasadena leaders to hold a public conversation about a possible local vaccine mandate.
The impetus for the ethics discussion was not clear until Phelps said it was personal.
“I don’t think the integrity of myself and the merit of my work has been recognized by the actions of Miss Frederick,” said Phelps. “So my objection is the organization of attacks against individual board members, (which) I think is not in line with the code of ethics and protocols. “
After hearing how members should receive the Superintendent’s approval before posting opinion pieces, use traditional methods to get agenda items and unite into a single district-centric voice, according to a document read to the council, Fredericks replied that it was not the subject of the organized discussion.
Phelps retorted, “It doesn’t matter.”
In March, Fredericks was criticized for lashing out at the superintendent during a discussion of the wait for schools to reopen in light of the number of coronavirus cases. She then issued a public apology to McDonald’s.
Don’t apologize this time
This time, Fredericks hit back at the censorship attempt, saying the district’s policies violate his constitutional rights.
Board member Michelle Richardson Bailey believes the problem comes down to what style of leadership does Pasadena Unified want to promote: “Do we want to be leaders, who keep the community angry and angry with us or do we want to be leaders who promote calm and focus on the issues at hand? , and stay connected to them? “
Fredericks maintains that she was online.
“I happen to have a very personal connection to a particular group of our stakeholders, and 9,805 of them have children under the age of 12,” she said, imploring her peers to acknowledge. that the world is in a pandemic, a life or death situation.
“On August 5, I thought we were really going to resolve these issues and really keep these kids safe, but half the staff was not there,” she added. “I prepared myself, and we didn’t talk about it in depth.”
Combined with the fact that meetings are spaced several weeks apart, “which is not to be confused with the COVID emergency,” Fredericks said, and it’s clear why she acted in non-traditional ways.
Too much public relations?
Board member Patrick Cahalan said it would be doing the public a disservice to always trumpet the district. Kimberly Kenne, board member, added that board members are not formally framed on their roles.
School board member Jennifer Hall Lee concluded the conversation by calling for help from the California School Boards Association, a nonprofit organization representing school board officials.
“We have to learn to function as a board,” Lee said. “Sometimes we vote individually, but we operate together. We don’t.
Phelps said in an interview after the meeting that he is happy to see the district unanimously implementing the new coronavirus protocols and looks forward to the team-building workshop scheduled for September 9 with the school board association.