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Anti-vaccine mandate protesters return to Santa Barbara Unified parking lot

Opponents of vaccine mandates rally again outside school board meeting

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Protestors opposed to COVID-19 vaccine mandates returned to the parking lot outside the Santa Barbara Unified School District Board Meeting on Tuesday night.

They are opposed to a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for all district employees and volunteers that was approved unanimously during a special meeting last Thursday.

The resolution, now in place, calls for proof of vaccinations by November 1, unless a religious or health exemption is approved.

A COVID-19 update given to the board included a graph that showed nearly 90 percent of the employees are vaccinated.

Juan Valladares, who said he drives a food truck for the district, has already had the coronavirus and doesn't want the vaccine.

"I feel that I should have a right where if I don't want to be vaccinated, I shouldn't have to be vaccinated and if someone wants to get vaccinated, go get vaccinated. I should have an option, even for my son, I don't think he should get vaccinated and we should have the right not to," Valladares said.

He said he didn't want to apply for an exemption.

Some of protesters said mandates will make even more parents home school.

Aimee Smith already home schools her children.

"Interfering with the rights of society when you have not made the case that this is an emergency or that the vaccination strategy will actually help in that emergency is completely unacceptable," she said.

Rally organizer Justin Shores of Goleta does not have children in the district, but is convinced they will mandate the vaccine for children next.

Shores said school board members are acting out of fear.

"This is above and beyond even the Federal government. Just doing this out of fear. Laura Capps said it was because she saw one teacher may have gotten three kids sick," said Shores, who ran for Goleta City Council last year.

Board member Laura Capps said last week that she wants to make sure they are protecting children, especially those under age 12 who are not yet eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations.

Student board member Dawson Kelly doesn't have a vote but said while he supports free speech, he believes a majority of students support the mandate.

"I have seen first hand many students that are in alignment with the boards actions regarding the staff vaccine resolution, I have also seen a lot of students that are already vaccinated," said Kelly.

Many protesters said they have had COVID, or believe they have had it.

They also oppose virtual meetings that prevent them from commenting in person.

Protestors plan to continue to hold rallies in the district parking lot to fight any mandates.

They plan to join another demonstration against mandates on Friday at the Courthouse Sunken Garden in Santa Barbara.

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Tracy Lehr

Tracy Lehr is a reporter and the weekend anchor of NewsChannel 3-12. To learn more about Tracy, click here

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