After spending the day sequestered in gymnasiums and cafeterias throughout Fresno Unified, about 850 students turned in proof of their whooping cough booster by the end of the school day Monday.
That leaves only 550 unvaccinated students, who will be isolated from their classes today.
The deadline for all middle and high school students to comply with a new state law requiring proof of a whooping cough booster shot was last week. Some Valley districts, such as Central Unified and Visalia Unified, already have complied.
Madera Unified on Monday barred 750 unvaccinated students from coming to school until they presented proof they had obtained their whooping cough booster.
But Fresno Unified tried a different approach, ordering students to show up on Monday but sequestering them from other students.
Monday was the start of the district's sequestering program, where 1,400 unvaccinated teens were given independent study assignments at their schools until they turned in the necessary paperwork.
"We're still processing everything but it looks like we're making progress," Fresno Unified's spokeswoman Susan Bedi said.
The 28 unvaccinated students in Fresno High's program spent their morning in the cafeteria hovering over classwork assignments and talking quietly while two substitutes, two counselors and a vice principal looked on.
Another 100 unvaccinated students never made it to school.
"They could have an illness -- or they could be making arrangements to get their immunizations," said Fresno High Principal Adrian Palazuelos. "We don't know yet why they're out."
Bedi said it was too early to tell if attendance was down in sequestering programs throughout the district.
The plan for the sequestered students' day was simple: Classwork and phone calls home in the morning, lunch in the cafeteria (away from the rest of the students), then back to the classwork packets and phone calls home in the afternoon.
"As soon as we get the documents, we get those reviewed and the student is back in class," Palazuelos said. "The whole process takes less than five minutes."
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 after the deadline. State officials say Fresno Unified's move to keep unvaccinated students at school -- even if they're isolated from other students -- violates state law.
The district's tactic could add up to $42,000 in attendance revenue for Monday alone, if the state agrees to pay it. The state reimburses districts about $30-$35 each day for every student who comes to school.
But Steve Martinez, Fresno Unified's assistant superintendent for school leadership, said the program was about more than just money.
"At least this way we know that they're here, they're in school and they're safe," he said
At Madera Unified, the number of unvaccinated students was pared down to 300 by the end of the school day.
"Most of them had already had their vaccination but they didn't turn in their paperwork," said Jake Bragonier, Madera Unified's spokesman.
About 20 parents at Madera Unified, though, opted out of the vaccination requirement altogether.
State law allows parents to waive vaccinations for whooping cough, measles and other illnesses for religious or philosophical beliefs.
Parents throughout the Valley have signed waivers in recent months, although the number of whooping cough booster shot waivers submitted at Fresno and Clovis schools were unavailable.
Laura Magill said she opted out of the whooping cough booster for her daughter, who is a student at Fresno Unified, because she doesn't know if the booster has been thoroughly tested.
"I don't know what kind of an effect it's going to have on her," she said.
But the practice of opting out of routine vaccinations is unusual in the Valley. Less than 2.5% of Clovis Unified and 1% Fresno and Visalia unified parents signed personal belief waivers for the immunizations required to enter kindergarten in 2010-11, according to California Department of Public Health data.