No mandatory vaccines for students and staff, Hamilton school board declares

HAMILTON — While some area schools have been publicly quiet as to their stance of possibly asking students to take the coronavirus vaccine now available to younger children, Hamilton’s school board this week publicly declared they will not mandate the injections.

Nor will they require their teachers to be vaccinated, unless ordered to do so by governmental powers outside the city schools.

Hamilton Board of Education President Laurin Sprague started Thursday evening’s meeting by reading a statement he said reflected the stance of the entire board overseeing the 10,000-student city schools.

“Currently, the question of mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations has become an item of discussion and debate. Unless required by federal, state or local authorities, the entire Hamilton Board of Education … has no interest in mandating Covid-19 vaccination for students or staff,” Sprague told the more than two dozen audience members and those watching the meeting on social media.

The decision to receive the vaccination, which was recently made available by federal government approval for children ages 5 to 11, he said, is “a parent, family and/or individual decision.”

While some officials at area school systems, including Fairfield and Talawanda schools, have publicly distanced themselves from any consideration of mandating vaccinations for students, some other local districts have yet to publicly proclaim their stance as clearly as Hamilton Schools.

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In September, the district and school board came under sharp criticism from some school parents for its mandatory mask policy for students, which was later changed to highly recommended position on masking.

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At its Oct. 28 meeting, the board endorsed the Ohio School Boards Association’s decision to resign from the National School Boards Associations in the wake of that organization’s since-retracted efforts to enlist federal law enforcement to investigate some school parents as domestic terrorists.

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Sprague said “parent input is a critical component of a child’s education.”

“Over the past several months school districts and their local boards of education have been placed in positions to make many, non-traditional decisions,” he said.

Hamilton school parent Jennifer Mason told the board after Sprague’s comments: “I do appreciate that parents are actually allowed to be parents and make the decision for our own children in regard to the vaccines.”

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