Corvallis School Board decides against requiring COVID-19 vaccines for students
The Corvallis School Board decided Thursday night not to become the first district in Oregon to require COVID-19 vaccines for all eligible students.
Board members listened as community members spoke for and against a possible vaccine mandate.
Crescent Valley High School ninth-grader Alex Gough said he worries that without a mandate, he and his classmates will end up back in online school.
“Students like myself have been waiting eagerly for school to return to normalcy, and this can help achieve that,” he said.
But Lori Marshall of Corvallis urged the board to not require the vaccine, at least not yet.
“I would just like the board to consider that we continue to gather information and take a year or two,” she said.
In the end, the board decided that the time isn't right to enact a COVID-19 vaccine mandate. Board chair Sami Al-Abdrubbah didn't hold a vote, but instead declared it was the consensus of the members not to move forward.
“What I hear from the board is a vaccine requirement is not off the table," said Board chair Sami Al-Abdrabbuh. "It’s on the table. But not yet.”
Board members agreed with Corvallis Superintendent Ryan Noss that more outreach is needed to encourage higher vaccination rates among communities of color in Benton County.
"There is a long history of students of color being marginalized," said Noss. "We don't want to promote that further by excluding them from in-person learning due to vaccination status."
According to a presentation by the Benton County Health Department, 68 percent of Corvallis School District students age 12 and older are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. However, the rate for Hispanic and Native American students is around 45 percent.