IMPERIAL — Teachers expressed their disagreements to COVID-19 mandates at the Imperial Unified School District (IUSD) regular meeting Thursday, Nov. 18, in Imperial. 

The board room was filled to capacity by parents and teachers. Some stood by the entrance and many still listened to the testimonies and remarks from outside via live stream on their phones. 

Testimonies varied but centered on the mandate versus personal choice of vaccination. Each person who made a public comment was given a 3-minute time limit. 

While some parents complied with the vaccinations to keep their jobs, they in turn, would fight to keep their children from getting vaccinated. There were young children present in the meeting — with coloring books.  

“We are Imperial Tigers,” said Lisa Ralls-Sotello, a teacher for more than 30 years and whose parents were teachers and now, her own children, were schooled in the district. 

Many of her colleagues had been vaccinated, said Ralls-Sotello, who serves as vice president of the Parent-Teacher Association. She said she’d been tested five times and each test resulted negative. “I know of at least five staff members who were vaccinated who tested positive.” 

“We keep seeing the constant push for vaccinating our children which I made perfectly clear, I won’t do,” said Sandy Fabela, who attended the meeting with her child. 

“I don’t agree with the testing but have been given no choice but to comply in order to provide for my children,” said Fabela. “But make no mistake, I draw the line of forced injection for my children and for myself.” 

“My daughter is a Tiger, and I’m a proud Tiger mom,” said Fabela. 

“I’m upset and disappointed by the vaccination mandates,” said Monica Galindo, a parent and teacher. “I’m not anti-vaccine but a pro-medical freedom. My children should not be ostracized for not getting the vaccine.” 

Dr. Brian Tyson, a parent and medical doctor who founded the All Valley Urgent Care with offices in El Centro and Brawley, spoke on several issues and background information surrounding COVID-19. 

Even before the family physician had reached the podium, some in the audience called out to yield their 3-minute time allotment to Dr. Tyson. Their gestures meant additional time for the doctor to speak more than his allotted time. 

Dr. Tyson introduced himself as a COVID-19 expert recognized across the nation and at the international level. He came back from Washington D.C. the previous day, after meeting with Senator Rand Paul (Kentucky), Senator Ron Johnson (Wisconsin), and Congressman Mark Meadows (North Carolina). 

“OSHA announced that a circuit court order will suspend implementation and enforcement of the vaccination mandate,” said Dr. Tyson, referring to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.  

Dr. Tyson informed board members, “There is still no FDA approved vaccine available in the USA.” 

And on the subject of voluntary consent, Dr. Tyson referred to the Nuremberg Code which he read from his cell phone: “It made voluntary consent a requirement in clinical research studies — emphasizing that consent can be voluntary only if participants are able to consent, they are free from coercion, for example — outside pressure, and must comprehend the risks and benefits involved.” 

Dr. Tyson asked, “Has anybody seen the vaccine insert? It says, ‘Intentionally left blank.’ It means that nobody knows what the risks and benefits are. There is no informed consent. So, then, the vaccine should be a decision between the patient and the provider, not a state mandate.” 

“Anyone should be afforded that personal choice based on their risk factors, based on their co-morbidities, based on their decision to take medical treatment or not, under the emergency use authorization statue upheld by the FDA.” 

“Mandates need to go away. This is a free society,” said Dr. Tyson. He also offered his help and any assistance needed to board members regarding the issue. 

Board President Jill Tucker responded that the IUSD drafted a letter regarding the mandates that will be sent to Governor Gavin Newsom next week. She asked Superintendent Bryan Thomason to read the letter for the audience to hear. Copies will also be sent to the California Department of Health, Imperial County Public Health Department, assemblyman and senators. 

Imperial Unified School District COVID-19 testing mandates

L to R: Board President Jill Tucker and Superintendent Bryan Thomason respond to public comments during the Imperial Unified School District regular meeting in Imperial Thursday, Nov. 18.

Imperial County Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Todd Finnell, has also reached out to Newsom with a letter discussing the desire to do away with mandates.

The letter stated, “From the very beginning of the response to this pandemic, state regulations have been mandated, placing much of the burden for communication, implementation, and enforcement entirely on principals, teachers, staff, administrators, and school boards. With the responsibility to implement these mandates, school boards and administrators are left to manage the increasing frustrations in our community, taking time and focus away from our critical mission of serving students and supporting teachers and staff.”

His letter goes on to request that the authority to create and implement COVID-19 safety guidelines remain in the hands of those at the local levels; and to “honor the voices of our parents, students, staff, and families” regarding medical, religious, and personal COVID-19 vaccine exemptions.

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