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Possible vaccine mandate sparks uproar among students

There was a lack of students on Monday with the combination of the walkout and the rain hazards. Photo by Monica Meszaros

On Oct. 25, many students expressed their opinions against a possible upcoming vaccine mandate through a school walkout. 

The Monday after Fall Break was bombarded with many events, including record heavy rain and a walkout in protest of the vaccination mandate. Principal Chris Roberts allowed an excused absence for any student who could not get to school due to flooding, so it was difficult to tell who was participating in the protest and who was affected by the weather. 

Government and History Teacher Matt MacDonald spoke on the issue. 

“We didn’t have as many people, I think, that were gone from the walkout and more people were gone because of rain,” he said. “There were definitely people gone, but it’s hard to tell what purpose they were gone for.” 

Junior Destiny LaFata was one of the students that participated in the walkout. 

“I chose to participate in this walkout because it is wrong to force students to get [vaccines] that [have] not been approved, just to get an education,” LaFata said. “Missing school gave us the opportunity to show the school that they will lose more than half of their students.”

The vaccination mandate has been a lively debate among students, parents and staff. Some students have already been vaccinated and did not participate in the walkout. 

Junior Shayne Middleton was one of those that did not participate. 

“I understand why people want to do it, but I don’t think it is big enough to do a whole walk out for it,” she said. 

Middleton talked about how being vaccinated is important to her. She said that she did not care about getting the vaccine, and focused on the benefit of it. 

“That way I can actually do things … and protect myself from others,” she said. 

While Middleton appreciates having the vaccine, LaFata feels differently. 

“The cause of the vaccine would affect me majorly. Because, if I do not choose to get the vaccine, I cannot have an education unless I do homeschool,” she said. “My privileges and my rights as an American would be taken away from me by not going to school, restaurants, grocery stores, etc.” 

Some students who participated in the walkout felt that using their freedom of speech was an important aspect of the cause.

“To me freedom of speech is opening up everyone around you to your opinion and your beliefs and how it should be respected,” LaFata said.

MacDonald expressed how the walkout brought a good real-life example to his classes. 

“It was interesting because in government class we are learning about civil liberties this week, so it has made for a great talking point for our classes and to talk about that exact thing,” he said. “We talked about that exact issue and it was cool to get perspectives from students as a real-life example of somebody exercising their beliefs.” 

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Possible vaccine mandate sparks uproar among students