Fresno Unified will sequester 1,900 middle and high school students who haven't turned in proof of getting a booster shot for whooping cough starting Monday.
The unvaccinated students will not be allowed to attend classes and will instead be sent to their school's gymnasium or cafeteria to complete class assignments.
In the meantime, families for each unvaccinated student will be contacted to make arrangements for the booster shot. If students don't turn in their paperwork by the beginning of the following week, they will be barred from school until they do.
This week, 3,300 students either got vaccinations, turned in their proof of immunization or had their parents come to school to sign a waiver refusing the vaccine.
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"We're nearly there," said Susan Bedi, Fresno Unified's spokeswoman.
A new state law requires whooping cough booster shots for all middle and high school students at the start of the school year. State officials granted a 30-day extension after a tepid response to vaccination efforts during the spring and summer.
That 30-day grace period expired Wednesday. But turning away 1,900 teens – 6% of the district's secondary students – could cost Fresno Unified $57,000 a day in lost attendance revenue from the state.
Instead, Fresno Unified opted to keep the unvaccinated teens at school but isolated from other students, a move that state officials say violates the law.
According to the California Department of Education, students who have not turned in proof of the vaccine or signed a refusal waiver can't come to school.
Other Valley districts are following a stricter interpretation of the law.
At Madera Unified, 750 teens will be barred from class starting Monday, but the district is planning last-minute vaccination clinics at both high schools that day to give students the chance to get the shot.
Clovis Unified began barring 250 unvaccinated students from school on Wednesday. By Friday afternoon, the district only had 24 students who hadn't turned in proof of the vaccination or a signed waiver.
"Our priority is to get those students back into school as soon as possible," district spokeswoman Kelly Avants said.