It is the season of enrollment and reinrollement into many schools in California. For those just coming in, the immunization rules may have come as a surprise or even if you’ve heard, it remains confusing. Here is my explanation of it, using my son as an example to help illustrate what it all means.
Since January 1, 2016, a California Law affecting the waiving of school-required immunizations went into place. This somewhat-new law (Senate Bill 277) no longer permits immunization exemptions based on personal or religious beliefs for children in child care and public and private schools. The Law does permit those personal belief exemption submitted (via paper form) to schools before January 1, 2016 to remain valid, until a pupil reaches kindergarten or 7th grade.
Real life example:
I filed the personal belief exemption form with my son’s school by December 31, 2015, and my son remains exempt from school required immunizations (nor will they require completion of them) until he reaches enrollment for 7th grade. If I had NOT filed this form with his school before January 1, 2016, I had 2 options:
- Obtain written vaccine exemption from his doctor (or another doctor) stating that there is a medical reason as to why my son should remain exempt from vaccinations. Such form or letter would allow him to remain on campus and continue to receive in classroom instruction just as his previous years, prior the SB277 coming into effect.
- My son/student may still enroll in the charter school (with a homeschool or an independent study program), but while there, my son may not partake in classroom-based instruction taught by the school staff. With no vaccine exemption on file and no (or fewer) immunizations due to the steadfast choice to not fully immunize, all school instruction is to be led by other means. In other words, my son would not be able to partake in the school’s 2 – 4 classroom days on campus. Without the medical exemption, he cannot be in classrooms taking classes with other kids.
But all is not lost. My son may still participate in extra-curricular activities such as theater, choir, after school sports, and clubs that his independent study/homeschool hybrid charter provides, whether or not he is immunized. Also, his access to special education and related services as specified in an individualized education program (IEP) will still be received, regardless of immunization status.
Note that with or without seeking exemptions, all students still need to provide records of any immunizations received prior to entry.
I would like to take this time to state that we do not need to be angry or show hostility when the school front office asks us for records of immunization. Their hands are tied in this matter. They are not personally – as an individual or even as a school – wanting to deny services they offer. They are merely abiding by the CA law and regulations, in order to continue serving families that have chosen this as their school as well.
For more information and FAQ’s for the Senate Bill 277, please visit http://www.shotsforschool.org/laws/exemptions/
If you have specific questions, ask here, or ask your intended school of attendance your questions.