CINCINNATI — A proposed mandate sitting in the Cincinnati Board of Education's Policy and Equity Committee could require every student eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine in Cincinnati Public Schools to either get the shot, prove legal exemption or test negative once a week.
While the district already requires staff to be vaccinated, it is more difficult with students — especially when the FDA has not yet authorized doses for children under 11. Board members said they fear parents could pull their kids out of the district, and noted the possible burden on students who cannot get vaccinated and have to get tested.
"I think it would be a burden for families to come to grips with this," board member Eve Bolton said. "This could and might actually cause families to leave the district — I would hate for them to go anywhere else."
Two-thirds of the committee said they did not want to vote on the policy yet, saying they needed more feedback from parents before making a decision.
"I'm not quite comfortable yet recommending it for passage," board member Ben Lindsay said during the meeting.
The trio called on district staff to make a questionnaire for parents to weigh in. Of parents streaming, only one spoke up. Christina Logan said she worries about vaccine side effects like myocarditis in young children — a risk the FDA panel and pediatricians recommending pediatric vaccine use acknowledge with caution.
"In the studies of young children in this younger age group, these cases were either non-existent, I believe, or exceptionally rare," said Dr. Patricia Manning, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Chief of Staff.
In the meeting, Logan said, "Many people's lives have been affected by this dramatically," and argued against the policy. The committee said the questionnaire aims to get feedback from all parents in the district.
Members said they hope to have questionnaire results ready to discuss before their next policy meeting Nov. 15. There will not be a vote during that meeting.