|By JR Valrey, The Minister of Information
On Wednesday September 22nd, the Oakland School Board voted that all children over 12 years of age, in the Oakland Unified School District, will have to be vaccinated with the Covid vaccines, in the following school year. There has been protest from teachers unions, parent groups, alumni, the community, and the students themselves to no avail. With the recall of California Governor Gavin “Vax’em” Newsom failing, many supporters in the state’s Democratic Party, see the failed recall as a divine mandate that people should be forced to be vaccinated with one of three experimental Covid vaccines.
DameDrummer is a teacher at Oakland school, “Oakland Academy of Knowledge”, who has refused to be vaccinated. With the September 22nd Oakland School Board vote to make it mandatory to vax all the students in the district, DameDrummer’s job and career is in jeopardy. This is the plight of a Black male teacher who refuses to give up his human rights to his body, in order to be employed. We are not talking about Nazi Germany or fascist Italy in the 40’s, in the era of World War 2, we are talking about so-called “progressive” Oakland, California in 2022. Check out DameDrummer as he describes his dilemma, as an un-vaccinated Black teacher in Oakland.
JR Valrey: When did you start teaching in OUSD? Prior to Covid, would you have called your job stressful? Why or why not?
DameDrummer: My first year was the 2020-21 school year. There were definitely some stressful times. Working with students, parents, and staff can be very challenging. The gamut of personalities, personal challenges, environments and learning abilities as well as disabilities, can be stressful but to be able to help those same people experience some type of joy and learning each day, makes it all worth it.
JR Valrey: How was the shelter-in-place period for you as a teacher stress wise, in comparison to the pre-Covid school environment?
DameDrummer: I created my own bubble for myself in order to keep my sanity through it all. The transition to school via video conferencing was wild. Not having the usual interaction with the students, families, and staff was challenging and it got old quick for me. I began reading to my students everyday, and it became something that they really enjoyed. It allowed us to escape the world around us, and dive into some culturally relevant and character building books.
JR Valrey: How has the first two months of in-person school been for you? How has teaching changed?
DameDrummer: It’s been great as far as working with the students. You can tell that they had been missing a huge part of their social experience. The safety restrictions have been the biggest change, especially when we came back for hybrid learning. For example, the students had to sit one person per lunch table or they couldn’t share the playground which is an open space, with other classes because it was considered cross-contamination
JR Valrey: How has OUSD dealt with you as a teacher who is refusing to get vaccinated? What does your daily or weekly protocol of testing consist of?
DameDrummer: I have to wear a mask while on campus, complete a daily symptom screening, as well as submit a weekly negative test. I have received emails stating that if I do not comply that it would be dealt with accordingly, including suspension without pay.
JR Valrey: What do you think about the pressure that the school district, the school administration, and your colleagues put on you to get vaccinated? How are you dealing with that?
DameDrummer: Coming from the district it’s tough, but my colleagues do not really interfere with my views. I feel that I am respected among them, but still the administrator has a job to do and a school to protect. I take care of my body, and show up feeling good everyday. The moment when I’m not feeling well, then I will be responsible and not come to school.
JR Valrey: Do you think mandating vaccinations violates the human rights of students and staff of the OUSD?
DameDrummer: I think so. Just like the “my body my choice” movements around abortion in our country, I feel the same about what I put in my body. It’s my choice and I shouldn’t be demonized for it.
JR Valrey: How are you going to deal with the Covid vaccine mandate, when it does go into effect? Why do you believe you have a right to hold out?
DameDrummer: It’s my God-given right to stand on my convictions. If something doesn’t feel right to me then I don’t do it.
JR Valrey: Has there been any covid outbreaks in your classroom? Have there been any covid outbreaks at the school? If so, what was the protocol? What grade do you teach?
DameDrummer: There have been a couple of isolated cases.The protocol is that the entire class has to test negative before reentering the classroom. Nothing has spread and people are being responsible in staying at home if they have symptoms.The staff has been diligent in maintaining a healthy school. I am a Restorative Justice Facilitator and I work with grades K-5.
JR Valrey: If the governor of the state of California issues a covid vaccine to work mandate in the state, what are you and your family going to do?
DameDrummer: It looks like he already has so I will most likely be looking for other opportunities that don’t require me to subject my body to methods that I don’t agree with.
JR Valrey: If you are forced from your job because of a vaccine mandate, how will you financially provide for your family? Is there a plan B?
DameDrummer: All praise to The Most High but I’ve never had to beg for crumbs. I will await my next assignment. There is always a plan B.
JR Valrey: What are your thoughts on students 12 year old and above, having the legal right to get themselves vaccinated at school without parental consent, be it that you are a teacher and a parent of two students in OUSD?
DameDrummer: As long as the parent is the caretaker then it is not a child’s decision alone. I don’t think it’s a good practice for adults to permit any major decisions, especially health decisions without parental consent.
JR Valrey: What will you say if your children come home from school fully vaccinated without your consent?
DameDrummer: Biggie said it best. “There’s gonna be a lot of slow singin and flower bringin”.
JR Valrey: How could people stay online with you?
Music: Black and Beautiful: https://youtu.be/qZWPizUlMjM
All That You Are: https://youtu.be/2PBd0NOEMDM
Rescue Me: https://youtu.be/Sqm9lrZyOY0