Please note that this article intentionally does not address the pros or cons of vaccinations. My objective, as a homeschool consultant, is to help families prepare for the requirements of the new law; it is not to offer advice regarding medical decisions for their children.
Beginning July 1, 2016, all children attending a campus-based school in California will need to be vaccinated against 10 specific diseases. SB 277, recently signed into law by Governor Brown, eliminates the Personal Belief and Religious Exemptions which had been utilized by parents who selectively vaccinate or who do not vaccinate their children.
Listed below are three common school scenarios with details of how each will be impacted by this new law:
#1 – My Children Attend a Campus-Based School.
These children must be vaccinated by the beginning of the 2016-2017 school year unless granted a medical exemption by their doctor. Their schools will be checking for the mandated shots at time of initial school entry, transfer to a new school, and at 7th grade.
If vaccinations are an issue for your family, then parents can request a Personal Beliefs Exemption (PBE) from their medical professional prior to December 31, 2015. The form, CDPH 8262, should be turned into the school office as soon as possible. Filing of this form will allow your student to delay the mandated shots until the next vaccination checkpoint (7th grade or transfer to a new school). More information about the PBE can be found at http://www.shotsforschool.org/laws/exemptions/#PBE-NEW.
#2 – My Children Are Homeschooled.
Children attending a home-based private school are exempt from this new law. This would seem to include students enrolled in PSPs (private school satellite programs) and families who file a PSA (private school affidavit).
Also exempt from the law’s requirements are those “enrolled in an independent study program pursuant to Article 5.5 (commencing with Section 51745) of Chapter 5 of Part 28 of the Education Code and does not receive classroom-based instruction” SEC 2 Section 120335(f) of SB277. The legal departments of many charter school homeschooling programs (charter schools, by definition, are not private schools) have issued opinions that their students will be exempt from the mandatory vaccinations under this section of the law.
School administrators are currently waiting for the California State Department of Public Health or other government authority to state if unvaccinated homeschool students will need to document their exemption in any manner.
#3 – My Children Attend a Hybrid Program – home-based instruction mixed with classroom instruction.
If the school program does not clearly fall under the rules stated in SEC 2 Section 120335(f) of the new law, then you will need to await further guidelines from the state as to whether your children require vaccinations or not.
If vaccinations are an issue for your family, then I recommend that you visit your doctor prior to December 31, 2015, to secure a Personal Beliefs Exemption (PBE) and file it with your school now. Then if your school program is later determined to be ineligible for vaccination exemption, you can use the PBE to delay the mandated shots until the next vaccination checkpoint (7th grade or transfer to a new school).
Mandatory vaccinations are an emotionally-charged issue for many in our state today. Each family will need to weigh the implications of the medical and educational choices now legally available to them as they determine where to send their children to school next year.
For further information, you can read the text of the law and the Legislative Counsel’s opinion at https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201520160SB277.
Want to learn more about homeschooling? Invite Penny to speak to your group on “Homeschooling: The What, the Why, and the How” or check her website (www.toolsforthehomeeducator.com) to see when it is next scheduled in her Torrance office.
This article is not intended to be, nor does it constitute the giving of legal advice. It represents my personal opinions only. For legal information on how SB277 impacts homeschoolers or for any other legal questions or concerns regarding homeschooling, I strongly recommend membership in HSLDA (Home School Legal Defense Association). You can contact them at http://www.hslda.org.