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Tipsheet

With No Alternatives, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser Is Denying Unvaccinated Students an Education

AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File

Bright blue cities under Democratic control went hard on the COVID-19 lockdowns, but D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser is taking it a cruel step further. For the 2022-2023 school year, which is this upcoming Monday, all D.C; students and staff will be required to provide proof of vaccination against the virus for the first day of school. There will be no alternative options, including virtual learning, for students who don't comply within the first 20 days. 

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The announcement is blasted on the official District of Columbia Public Schools website, along with pictures of students in masks advertising the DCPS School Year 2022-2023 Calendar with the slogan "Learning Happens Here."

The stringent requirements, with no alternatives, are especially concerning given the vaccination rate among black students. Black students made up 57 percent of the student body for the 2021-2022 school year. Hispanic students made up 21 percent for that year, while white students made up 17 percent. Further, 75 percent of students were considered "economically disadvantaged" and 45 percent were considered "at risk." Keeping such students out of school doesn't seem like a solution to improve those numbers. 

The Daily Signal's Douglas Blair attended a press conference that Mayor Bowser gave earlier this month, during which he asked about her effectively denying unvaccinated students an education, given that 40 percent of black students are unvaccinated. Despite those numbers coming from D.C., Bowser dismissed his claim.

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Blair also followed up with a piece on Thursday, reminding that Bowser herself admitted there is no alternative:

Students get 20 days to provide their vaccination certificate. The Office of the State Superintendent of Education for D.C. announced that “all students must have up-to-date immunization certification on file with the school within the first 20 school days or they will not be allowed to attend school or school activities until the immunization certification is secured by the school.” 

The office continued, “If the student does not come into compliance within a 20-school day period, the school must remove the student from school until the immunization certification is secured by the school.” 

When pressed on whether or not unvaccinated children would have to use virtual learning for their education if they were not compliant with the vaccine mandate, Bowser said, “We’re not offering remote learning for children, and families will need to comply with what is necessary to come to school.”

Numbers from the D.C. Coronavirus website, which bears Muriel Bowser's name right on it as mayor, indicate that just 26 percent of children 5-11 years old have had their primary series completed, while 53 percent of children 12-15, and 58 percent of children 16-17 have had their primary series complete.

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Black resident are much less likely to be vaccinated than white residents. 

Mayor Bowser didn't merely give Blair a hard time for using her numbers, but her office gave Fox 5, the D.C. local affiliate, the slip. As a Tuesday report for the outlet by Tom Fitzgerald mentions, they reached out to the mayor's office and superintendent about the numbers, but had not heard back. Fitzgerald also cites concerns from Akosua Ali, the president of DC's NAACP chapter, who thinks black students are being treated unfairly and at least wants there to be remote learning options for unvaccinated students. 

Earlier this month, as Madeline highlighted, Gallup released a poll showing that parents of children under 18 were less likely than non-parents to support COVID-19 vaccine requirements for attending school. Respondents are also less likely to support such vaccine mandates than they were for the previous school year.

Just 38 percent of school-age children support such vaccine mandates for elementary school students, while 39 percent support the mandates for middle school students, and 41 percent do for high school students.

The mayor's Twitter account on Thursday also reminded that students and staff must also provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test by uploading online before returning to school. Even those in Pre-K are required to do so, by next Wednesday. 

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D.C.'s government workers found relief from the vaccine mandate on Thursday, in the form of a ruling from D.C. Superior Court Judge Maurice Ross, as Leah highlighted earlier this morning. 

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