By Jacob Wilson/Garden Grove Journal
The biggest change affecting Orange County school districts is a stricter whooping cough vaccination policy.
Students entering the seventh and eighth grades must have received the mandatory Tdap Booster shot before the first day of school. Orange County is in the midst of a Whooping Cough epidemic, according to the County of Orange Health Care Agency.
Whooping Cough, also known as Pertussis, is highly contagious and often mimics a cold in the beginning. The disease can include vomiting, gagging and choking with symptoms lasting for several weeks. The Tdap booster also protects against tetanus and diphtheria.
The Westminster School District, a K-8 district, has sent letters to parents and posted immunization information on its website. But there’s no way to measure early compliance.
“We won’t know how we’re faring until students start picking up their schedules,” said Trish Montgomery, the district’s public information specialist. “At that time we will be checking to see if they have the proper paperwork.”
WSD students who still need vaccinations have a little more time. The first day for the district’s 13 elementary and three middle schools is Sept. 7. An estimated 9,716 students will begin classes. The district’s general fund is $76 million.
WSD Assistant Superintendent Clark Hampton said enrollment is down slightly from last year. In 2010, enrollment increased for the first time in several years, said Hampton.
“During the housing boom, enrollment leveled off with people buying houses in San Bernardino and Riverside,” Hampton said. “Now the housing bust is bringing people back to their roots.”
Westminster High School, part of the Huntington Beach Union High School District, actually started the year on Aug. 31. The school’s total enrollment is 2702. A year ago, Westminster’s first day enrollment was 2,613, said Shirley Vaughn, WHS principal.