School Board to Revisit Vaccination Policy on Overnight Trips

First published in the July 16 print issue of the Burbank Leader.

A Burbank Unified School District policy requiring students, staff and chaperones to be vaccinated in order to attend overnight field trips will be discussed at a school board meeting on Thursday after parents of two unvaccinated cheerleaders were told their daughters could not attend a summer camp.
The parents attended special meetings on June 28, and, again, on July 7, asking board members to consider revising the policy because they do not want their daughters to be excluded from a Universal Cheerleaders Association cheer camp to be held Aug. 1-4 in Indian Wells.
The association is open to all students involved in cheer programs and does not require athletes to be vaccinated. However, the Burbank school policy was put in place to protect all student groups on overnight stays.
“I believe this to be an unfair policy and discriminatory to unvaccinated students when cheer camp itself does not require attendees to be vaccinated,” said Michelle Gogh, mother of one of the two cheerleaders who would not be allowed to attend the camp under the current policy.
“Not to mention the fact that we are allowed to fly anywhere in the continental United States without being vaccinated or tested for COVID,” she added.
Gogh and the parents of the other cheerleader asked the board to amend the policy and allow the two students to attend cheer camp for the first time in two years.
The parents, who already paid the non-refundable deposit required to attend the overnight camp, said they were willing to compromise by testing their children beforehand for the safety of the staff and other athletes.
“As a parent and a teacher, I have seen the social-emotional impact the COVID lockdown has had on children of all ages, especially the teenagers,” Gogh told the board via Zoom. “My daughters will have some of their friends struggle with depression and anxiety. The cheerleaders have missed two years of camp, and this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience [that] I believe is necessary in the social and emotional growth of all students.”
Board members could not decide on the matter because it was not an agendized item, but they assured the parents that it would be discussed next week.
“It may be just a good time to review all those policies and where they currently stand before the next school year,” board member Steve Ferguson said.
Board member Steve Frintner reminded his colleagues that the policy was implemented to keep students safe, and coronavirus cases and hospitalizations have been on the rise this summer.
“I know everything seems very normalized right now, but cases are going up and we had an incident in the spring with one of our choirs that went on an overnight trip and there was an outbreak,” Frintner said. “So, there are very clear reasons we have that policy in place.
The policy regarding overnight field trips, which was last revised April 7, is included on the agenda for the next school board meeting at 7 p.m. on Thursday.