Opinion: OUSD ahead of vaccine-mandate curve

child wearing mask

Photo courtesy Public Radio Tulsa


By Kimberly Rivers

While the wider public debates the new mandate that all students in California get the coronavirus vaccine (once it's fully authorized for all ages), school districts (and private schools) will be grappling with how to meet their constant mandate: provide all children with the best education possible.


School districts must provide the best education possible to all students, and at all times must comply with state law.

The good news is that Ojai Unified School District is poised to be ahead of the curve due to an existing educational option.

I hope everyone will join me in applauding Dr. Tiffany Morse, superintendent of OUSD, for building in collaboration with other administrators and staff members, such a successful and sought-after homeschooling program at the Summit School campus in Upper Ojai. Summit School is K-12 and because it is a non-classroom-based program, students who enroll are exempt from state vaccine mandates. This was the case prior to the pandemic and today.

Remember, it is not the role of a school district to take a position on vaccinations or whether they are mandated.

So, as the firestorm around the vaccine mandate flares up or gets knocked down, we, in the Ojai Valley, should sigh with relief that our district has educational options available already to serve all children, and if managed well, could stem an exodus of students to homeschooling programs managed by other entities, resulting in decreased revenue for OUSD, a district with ongoing declining enrollment.

Summit School provides an opportunity for OUSD to maintain enrollment levels in the wake of a requirement that concerns some parents, but which the school district has no control over. It could, in fact, increase OUSD enrollment because the program is already in place. Increased demand may prompt the district to expand at Summit, or duplicate the program at other campuses in the district.

A public school district that offers myriad options — effectively marketed in English and Spanish to all the students it serves — will thrive. That was true before the pandemic, during the pandemic, and will be the case if there ever is an after the pandemic.

— Kimberly Rivers of Meiners Oaks, who is vaccinated, is the parent of an OUSD student.


• To read an OVN article, "OUSD, Rock Tree Sky partnership has families lining up to attend Summit School," archived from October 2020, visit:


• To read the Principal's Message from Summit School for the 2021-22 school year, visit:


To read OVN Oct. 8, 2021 article on COVID-19 vaccine mandates for schoolchildren, visit:



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