Under the threat of power failure, Galt Joint Union Elementary School District (GJUESD) Board of Trustees reorganized board officers, heard reports regarding a dual language immersion survey and the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for schools and approved updated board policies at its Dec. 13 meeting.

Hoping to accomplish time sensitive decisions, board members chose to rearrange the order of the agenda at the Monday evening meeting, just in case high winds knocked out power at Greer Elementary School where the meeting was being held. Just hours before, various parts of the city lost power due to high winds.

Stating that current Board President Tom Silva has been a “fantastic leader”, Trustee Grace Malson made a motion that Silva continue his role as head of the board.

“You’ve been a fantastic leader throughout this whole past year,” Malson said, addressing Silva. “If you’re willing to take it on for one more year and keep leading us, I would make that motion.”

After Silva agreed to continue in the role, Trustee Traci Skinner shared her appreciation.

“I’m grateful that you’re willing to step up and do this another year,” Skinner said.

Malson was chosen as vice president, Skinner as board clerk and Trustee Casey Raboy will fill the board representative role.

COVID-19 vaccine

Trustees heard a report from Attorney Barrett Snider with Capitol Advisors Group in regard to Governor Gavin Newsom’s proposed COVID-19 vaccine mandate for students.

According to Barrett, for the state to add the COVID-19 vaccination to the current list of 10 required vaccinations for students without a personal belief exemption, the Legislature and Governor would need to pass a law adding it to the list. The Legislature is currently in recess and will return to business in January.

Barrett said that although a legislator is expected to introduce a bill proposing to add COVID-19 to the list of required vaccinations, if successful, the new law would not take effect until January 2023.

“In order for a bill to take effect before then, it would need a 2/3 supermajority vote in both houses of the legislature,” Barrett said. “It is highly unlikely, given the amount of controversy related to this issue that a bill would be in effect prior to January 2023.”

Barrett’s report went on to explain that since the Governor has directed the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) to add the vaccine to the required list of vaccines using the regulatory process, instead of pursuing legislation, “current law requires both medical and personal belief exemptions be allowed.”

The California Health and Safety Code provides the opportunity for those exemptions; however, in order to receive a personal belief exemption, a student’s parent or guardian must file a letter or affidavit with the school district that states which immunizations are “contrary to the student’s beliefs.”

In addition to the affidavit, parents must submit a signed attestation from a health care practitioner that the practitioner provided the student’s parent with information regarding the benefits and risks of the immunization and the health risks of the communicable disease, as well as a written statement by the student’s parent or guardian that the signer has received the information provided by the health care practitioner.