© 2024 | Jefferson Public Radio
Southern Oregon University
1250 Siskiyou Blvd.
Ashland, OR 97520
541.552.6301 | 800.782.6191
Listen | Discover | Engage a service of Southern Oregon University
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Students Petition for Ashland High School to Require Vaccines


Two Ashland high school students have started an online petition to convince the school board to put in place a vaccine mandate for students. The petition at change.org has garnered more than 800 signatures.

The students, Ashland High School student body co-presidents Luke Seely and Josh Datz, say their vaccine mandate proposal was informed by examples from other school districts.

“We’ve really taken our lead from the decision that came out of the LA Unified School District,” says Datz. “And their decision was that they would be able to verify that students were vaccinated and that students that were not vaccinated would enter their online independent study program.”

Datz says requiring vaccines is crucial because masking and social distancing alone aren’t enough. He and Seely cites an incident where a student tested positive for COVID after the first day of a retreat for incoming students, as the reason there should be a vaccine mandate.

“Our reasoning for this advocacy is that it is the only way forward for us to get out of this pandemic,” says Datz. “It is the way for us to ensure public health, it is the way for us to ensure the health of our economy, the health of our nation. But I think that we need to be personal about it, say that this is an issue of what can I do for my neighbor.”

Datz and Seely created the petition after they, along with Jackson County Medical Director Jim Shames, met with the school board to discuss the mandate.

“It was in response to the fact that coming out of that meeting we don't see a lot of direct action,” says Seely. “We didn't feel like there was any sort of comprehensive commitment to really diving into the details of this policy and seeing how viable it was. So we created this petition just as community members ourselves to say look this is what the public is expressing right now.“

Teachers and school staff will already be under a vaccine mandate beginning October 18th.

The school board is meeting again on October 11th. Datz and Seely are hoping the mandate will be on the agenda.

Sophia Prince is a reporter and producer for JPR News. She began as JPR’s 2021 summer intern through the Charles Snowden Program for Excellence in Journalism. She graduated from the University of Oregon with a BA in journalism and international studies.