As a teacher, I'm not willing to let anti-science scaremongers hurt my students or my colleagues. It's time for vaccine mandates in every school.

As a teacher, I'm not willing to let anti-science scaremongers hurt my students or my colleagues. It's time for vaccine mandates in every school.
In this March 31, 2021, photo, freshman Hugo Bautista eats lunch separated from classmates by plastic dividers at Wyandotte County High School in Kansas City, Kan., on the first day of in-person learning. AP Photo/Charlie Riedel
  • The COVID-19 vaccines work against the Delta virus.
  • We're starting to see businesses and organizations require these vaccines for their employees.
  • This should also be applied in school, where maintaining a safe environment for students is a priority.
  • Matt Walton is an educator in West Virginia.
  • This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.

According to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on breakthrough COVID-19 cases, less than 1% of people who have contracted COVID-19 despite being vaccinated have either been hospitalized or died.

As of July 26, the CDC reported that 163 million Americans had been vaccinated for COVID-19. Out of those inoculations in the same timeframe, only 6,587 COVID-19 breakthrough cases occurred that either resulted in hospitalization or death.

The data is clear, the COVID-19 vaccines work.

Recently we have seen governments, businesses, and even the military begin to require the vaccine for employees. Now is the time to apply that mandate to the academic world.

Safer learning

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio issued an order that will require people to show proof of vaccination for indoor dining, fitness and entertainment in New York City, with full enforcement by September 13.


In Richmond, Virginia, Mayor Levar Stoney announced that it would become the first Virginia locality to implement vaccine requirements for it's 3,600 public employees, including police, fire, public works, social services and parks and recreation workers.

There are also vaccine mandates being implemented at the federal level, and companies like Facebook, Anthem, Ford, and Google have shown the leadership needed to follow suit.

These are leaders who have made the tough, but right call to require the COVID-19 vaccine. However, with the Delta variant on the rise, we need more leaders to do the same for other industries and fields, and that includes the world of education.

The problem is that many states are controlled by Republican governors and elected officials who are fighting against science and putting politics above the health of their citizens. These governmental leaders are also again pushing our healthcare system and its workers to the breaking point. Hospitals are filled to or near capacity leading to deaths, and healthcare workers who have done an amazing job saving America have hit their breaking point with Delta and are leaving the profession.

In Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has taken the extreme step to threaten to withhold the salaries of local superintendents and school board members who enact mask mandates. Thankfully there are school leaders in the Sunshine State that are willing to defy the Governor and put forth protections for the unvaccinated students.


But we must do more to protect our children, especially those who are not yet eligible for COVID-19 vaccines. In the last week alone, according to the report from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children's Hospital Association, nearly 72,000 cases were reported in children, roughly 19% of the total number of new cases nationwide.

As a teacher I want to make sure that all my students are as healthy as possible. We need to keep school doors open this year, and the best way to do that is by mandating vaccines for staff.

If you have a student that is 12 years or older they too should be required to get a vaccine. States already require immunizations for students. For example, Texas requires seven vaccines for their students, and other states such as Virginia and Florida all have immunization requirements.

To keep schools open and children in them it's not just the effort of teachers and educational staff, but also the community. If a community is not vaccinated, its children are at risk.

The data is clear, vaccines save lives and protect people from COVID-19. We as a society require things of our citizens, such as wearing seatbelts and not drinking and driving. Failure to do these things result in consequences. If someone refuses to get vaccinated they should not be able to enjoy the freedom that those who are vaccinated enjoy.


There is only one way to put an end to this pandemic, and that is to follow the proven science and get vaccinated, and it's about time we require it.