(The Center Square) – Washington, D.C.’s vaccine mandate for students over 12 years old has been the subject of major controversy, and is now being put to the test after thousands of students returned to school this month without being vaccinated.
The city, which has one of the most aggressive mandates in the country for students, has now announced that enforcement of the mandate will be delayed until Jan. 3.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved vaccines for children as young as 6 months old. Research, though, has repeatedly shown children are far less likely to experience serious harm from the virus.
The decision comes after Republican lawmakers blasted the mandate earlier this month, pointing out that the policy would disproportionately keep minority children out of schools since they are vaccinated at lower rates.
In a letter to t Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, the lawmakers raised questions about “D.C.’s alarming attempt to expel thousands of students who fail to comply with a vaccine mandate.”
“The District is far outside the educational mainstream in mandating a vaccine on school-aged children. According to the Washington Post, D.C.’s school mandate ‘is among the strictest in the nation, according to health experts, and is being enacted in a city with wide disparities in vaccination rates between its White and Black children,’” lawmakers said in the letter. “The D.C. Council’s decision raises serious questions about why a local government would decline to follow the science and instead choose to place an entire population of youth at further risk of academic decline…“
In their letter, lawmakers also argued that vaccines have been demonstrated to be less effective than initially promised in preventing transmission of COVID-19.
“As we have seen over the last year and a half, COVID-19 vaccine mandates fail to prevent the contraction or transmission of COVID-19,” the letter said. “In the face of this science, the D.C. Council’s vaccination mandate creates a likelihood that thousands of D.C. schoolchildren will be locked out of learning opportunities this school year, setting these children further behind in their academic progress.”
At the same time, D.C. Superior Court Judge Maurice A. Ross ruled Thursday that D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s vaccine mandate for government employees was unconstitutional.
D.C. public schools have garnered national attention after Schools Chancellor Lewis D. Ferebee said in a news conference last week that about 40 illegal immigrant students could be enrolled in schools. The city has seen an influx of illegal immigrants from the buses sent by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.