H-SANTA MARIA

Sep 20, 2011 9:36 PM by Ariel Wesler

Santa Maria students without TDAP costing district thousands

Hundreds of high school students are being kept out of school in Santa Maria because they have not turned in a proof of vaccination for whooping cough or a waiver not to have it.

The deadline to get your TDAP vaccine for high schools in Santa Maria was Friday.

Yesterday, students without paperwork were put in cafeteria areas and multi purpose rooms, but today they were not allowed to come to school. Administrators say it's not just costing kids educational opportunities but also valuable district dollars.

The district says it's mostly procrastination, people simply simply dragging their feet turning in the necessary paperwork, whether or not you choose to vaccinate your child.

Roughly 400 students in the Santa Maria Joint Union High School District have still not turned in a proof of vaccination or waiver and are not allowed at school.

"If they're not here, they're not learning. If they're not learning, they're not going to pass their classes," said Esther Prieto-Chavez, Principal at Delta High School in Santa Maria.

But students aren't just hurting their education. Every day they're not at school, the district loses state funding. At $44 per student, that was a loss of more than $17,000 today alone.

"That means that's less money for other materials or it could be even positions and so on, so it would affect district wide," Prieto-Chavez said.

So, why are so many still without their paperwork? administrators say cost doesn't seem to be the big factor.

"Some parents find it difficult to get in and actually get it taken care of. I know a lot of our student population, their parents do work," said Pete Flores, Asst. Principal at Santa Maria High School.

In other cases, kids will be kids.

"When we call their parents, they say well, 'I gave them the vaccination document and they left it at home. They forgot to bring it,'" Prieto-Chavez said.

But make no mistake, these are unexcused absences, so not getting your shot could jeopardize your shot at graduating.

Administrators hope to see those numbers dwindle by the end of the week. They have made many phone calls to parents and some school officials are preparing to knock on the doors of those kids who have not turned in their paperwork.

The clock is also ticking this week in San Luis Obispo county where many students had a later school start date.

Thursday is the deadline for Atascadero and Paso Robles. In San Luis Coastal schools, students have until the end of this week. In the Lucia Mar District, all but one of the district's 5,000 students were vaccinated by today.

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