DC Mayor's COVID Policy Could Leave Thousands of Kids Without Any Education


D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser is about to ban thousands of students from learning in the District of Columbia’s classrooms — including over 40 percent of black pupils.

Why are they getting kicked out of school? Poor grades? Fighting? Behavioral problems?

No, of course not. Those would be reasons to kick students out of school in a sane place; this is the District of Columbia. Instead, they’re potentially getting kicked out because they’re not vaccinated against COVID, a virus which has affected young people and teens to a much lesser extent than older adults.

According to The Daily Signal, a news outlet run by the conservative Heritage Foundation, D.C. students have 20 days to produce a vaccination certificate.

A statement from D.C.’s Office of the State Superintendent of Education said 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.”

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“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.”

Not only that, there will be no virtual learning options for students who don’t get the vaccine.

“We’re not offering remote learning for children, and families will need to comply with what is necessary to come to school,” Bowser said on Thursday during a media briefing.

School starts Monday; this means that, just days before the new year is set to begin, there’s no contingency plan from D.C. officials for unvaccinated students.

This is a serious issue since over four out of 10 black students hasn’t gotten a COVID-19 vaccine.

Earlier in the month, a Daily Signal reporter asked Bowser about those statistics.

“I don’t think that that number is correct. We have a substantially fewer number of kids that we have to engage with vaccination,” she said.

As the reporter who asked her the question said on Twitter: “She said my numbers were wrong. They’re her numbers.”

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As Blair noted, the numbers are available on the District of Columbia’s website for anyone to see:

Students 12-17 are the only ones currently affected by this; as the Office of the State Superintendent of Education’s website says, “Beginning in the 2022-23 school year, the COVID-19 vaccine is required for school enrollment and attendance in the District of Columbia for all students who are of an age for which there is a COVID-19 vaccination fully approved by the US Food and Drug Administration.”

While the FDA gave emergency-use authorization for vaccines for children ages 5-11, full approval was not granted for those aged 12-15 until July, according to Reuters.

According to Blair, “data from the government’s vaccine numbers website shows 47% of the black children in the district ages 12-15 had not completed their primary vaccination series necessary to go back to school in person.

“Among black teens aged 16-17, 42% are unvaccinated.”

What’s particularly alarming about these numbers is that the majority of students in D.C.’s public schools are black.

According to data from the state superintendent, 64 percent of the 94,573 students enrolled in 2020-21 were identified as “Black/African-American,” 19 percent were “Hispanic/Latino, of any race” and 12 percent were “White.”

If the number of unvaccinated 12-17-year-old black individuals perfectly matches up with the percentage of unvaccinated public school students from the ages of 12-17, this means that over 24,000 students would be essentially kicked out of school because they or their families refused to comply with Mayor Bowser’s mandate.

Meanwhile, the total Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provisional COVID death count for Americans under 18 is 1,247 through Aug. 24 — slightly over 0.1 percent of the million-plus deaths the CDC attributes to COVID since the beginning of the pandemic, despite the fact that minors represent 22.2 percent of the U.S. population.

Should COVID vaccination mandates inhibit children's education?

We hear politicians bleating about how pandemic shutdowns punished at-risk and minority students the most. Yet, when the rubber hits the road in D.C., Mayor Bowser is willing to risk tens of thousands of black students having no access to public education as a means to pressure their parents into vaccinating them against a virus that tends to cause mostly mild to moderate symptoms in children and teens.

The mayor of D.C. still wants us to think she’s fighting a virus. In reality, she’s fighting public school students and parents, most of them minorities.

It’s time for D.C. residents to demand alternatives or demand the vaccine mandate be lifted. For thousands of Washington kids, their future may very well depend on it.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture