SAN DIEGO — Parents across the state who want to end vaccine mandates, staged a walk-out Monday, pulling their kids out of school. But did the walkout actually make an impact on school districts?
Nearly 70% of eligible children in San Diego County are fully vaccinated but there are still some parents who say their kids should not be forced to get the shots. So on Monday they tried to make their voices heard by keeping their kids home.
“We believe that parents are better parents to our children than the government is,” said one protestor.
Dozens of parents in San Diego rallied at Balboa Park to protest vaccine mandates in California public schools. They also kept their kids out of class, hoping to make a statement to local school districts. But San Diego Unified Schools reported unexcused absences only increased 1.45% from this time last week.
“The reality is that this particular virus is something that doesn’t just affect individuals, it affects the community at large and it’s in fact, a worldwide pandemic,” said Dawniel Carlock Stewart, a supporter of the Californians for Safe Schools initiative, which supports mandates for schools.
Carlock Stewart is a parent of three children in San Diego Unified Schools and said she supports mask and vaccine mandates for eligible school children. She also believes the walkouts won’t end the mandates and only negatively impact students and staff.
"It directly affects the children and their education as well as the teachers and what they have planned for the day of learning,” Carlock Stewart said.
Poway Unified Schools says the number of elementary students absent without an excuse this Monday more than tripled from last Monday, rising from 109 to 352.
Carlock Stewart said she understands that people want to make their own choice but after losing a family member to COVID-19, she supports the mandates.
“Having mask mandates and the safety mitigation factors the district has implemented has really made my family feel safe about sending my kids to school,” Carlock Stewart said.
WATCH RELATED: San Diego parents participate in statewide 'sit-out' to protest school vaccine mandate