TimesOC: Up in arms, protestors stage walkout over vaccine mandate for students

"Sign up for our TimesOC newsletter" and the L.A. Times logo over the Huntington Beach Pier at sunset.
TimesOC, a newsletter about Orange County, is published Wednesdays and Fridays.
(Los Angeles Times)

Good morning. It’s Wednesday, Oct. 20. I’m Carol Cormaci, bringing you today’s TimesOC newsletter with the latest roundup of news and events.

Hundreds turned out Monday morning at Pier Plaza in Huntington Beach to protest vaccine mandates for schoolchildren, a scene that played out up and down the state as part of an organized walkout.

Our colleague Matt Szabo was at the plaza to report on the Surf City version of the protest against the Oct. 1 announcement by California Gov. Gavin Newsom of the COVID-19 vaccination requirement for all of the state’s public and private schoolchildren. The requirement would go into place starting with the school term following
the U.S. Food & Drug Administration’s full approval of the vaccine for children 12 and older.

Monday’s local walkout seemed much ado about little, as it came during a month when the majority of Orange County children ages 12 to 17 have already met the requirement, according to the O.C. Health Care Agency. The data provided by the agency show 163,458 children in that age range have received at least one vaccine dose, compared to 80,295 who are not yet vaccinated, Szabo reports.

Ocean View School District, an elementary and middle-school district in Huntington Beach that receives state funding based on attendance, reported a student absentee rate of 9.27% Monday. The district’s superintendent, Carol Hansen, put out a statement following the local protest.

“We understand that families and students may have strong emotions and questions about Gov. Newsom’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate,” Hansen said in the statement. “However, keeping children home from school to protest the requirement does not hurt the state, but it does result in lost learning time and funding for Ocean View students.”

Neighboring Newport-Mesa Unified School District, which unlike Ocean View does not collect average daily attendance money from the state, did not see a significant absentee rate Monday, according to a spokeswoman, but also put out a statement after the walkout emphasizing the importance of being in school “for their growth and achievement.”

Sarita Brown, from Lakewood, chants during a protest to oppose vaccination mandates at the Huntington Beach Pier on Monday.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)


— Rep. Katie Porter (D-Irvine) noted during a congressional subcommittee hearing Monday that Beta Offshore, the energy company at the center of the recent oil spill off Huntington Beach, has received roughly $31 million in federal relief since 2016. Beta is a subsidiary of Amplify Energy. In related news, it was determined that the MSC Danit, a large container ship, was involved in an anchor-dragging incident in January near the pipeline later determined to be the source of the oil spill, according to the Coast Guard.

— A news conference was held at Main Beach Park in Laguna Beach Monday morning during which environmentalists, including actor and activist Jane Fonda, called for an outright ban on offshore drilling in the wake of the oil spill.

Jane Fonda speaks at a news conference in downtown Laguna Beach to support a ban on all offshore oil drilling in California.
Jane Fonda, Academy Award-winning actor, producer, author and activist, at a news conference in downtown Laguna Beach Monday to support a ban on all offshore oil drilling in California.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

— UC Irvine Medical Center’s most noted patient last week, former President Bill Clinton, headed home to New York Sunday after having been treated at the hospital since Oct. 12 for a urological and blood infection. Clinton, in the Southland to speak at a reception and dinner, was taken to the UCI Medical Center after expressing fatigue while visiting with longtime friends in Orange County.

Former President Bill Clinton, standing with his wife, Hillary, shakes hands with Dr. Alpesh N. Amin after being discharged.
Former President Bill Clinton, standing with his wife, Hillary, shakes hands with Dr. Alpesh N. Amin on Sunday after being discharged from University of California-Irvine Medical Center in Orange, where he spent six days fighting an infection.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

— A transient identified as Ruben Gonzalez, 59, lost his life near the Newport Beach Pier in the early hours of Saturday after there was an altercation between the man and a 22-year-old Tustin resident identified by police as Ezekial Izaiah Person. The incident is being investigated as a homicide and Person is in custody.

— Here’s a case involving a determined burglar: There’s video evidence that a person broke into a Costa Mesa home that was tented for fumigation Saturday night, despite the warnings that pesticides were present, and walked out with several items.


— Ocean View High School sophomore Isis Salazar and Laguna Beach High junior Bella Rasmussen, both running backs, are making strides this season on their respective schools’ varsity football teams. Salazar scored a touchdown for her team on a recent Friday night, believed to be only the second touchdown made by a female player in Orange County history. The first was made in 2015 by Samantha Ho of Tesoro High.

Ocean View's Isis Salazar is a sophomore running back for the football team.
(Scott Smeltzer)

— The Anaheim Ducks, dead last in the West Division of the National Hockey League last year, opened their new season on Oct. 13 with a game against the Winnipeg Jets that the Ducks won, 4-1, with the help of 18-year-old Mason McTavish, who became the youngest player in the team’s history to score. In overtime play Monday, the Anaheim team prevailed over the Calgary Flames. Sports writer Jack Harris provides a list of 10 things fans should know about the Ducks as the season gets underway.


— Visitors to Lions Park in Costa Mesa on Saturday were treated to a fall-themed spectacle, the Scarecrow Festival. The winning entry among 13 such decoys submitted by nonprofits and other community groups was “Scarecrow on Wheels,” created by the Costa Mesa Alliance for Better Streets. The entry helped call attention to the mission of the group, which formed in 2019 to help galvanize resident interest in safer, more bike-friendly streets.

Scarecrows were submitted by individuals and community groups during the Scarecrow Festival in Costa Mesa.
Thirteen scarecrows were submitted by individuals and community groups during the Scarecrow Festival in Costa Mesa.
(Spencer Grant)

— A Newport Coast couple, Mohindar “Sandy” Sandhu and Harriet Sandhu, recently donated $1 million to Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian in Newport Beach, just one of many contributions from the family for more than 20 years, according to Hoag officials. Over the years the Sandhus have also donated to Chapman University, the Orange County School of Arts and Oceana and a number of other charities and nonprofits throughout Orange County. “I want our whole community — whoever Hoag serves — to get the best care
possible and that’s what why we donate to it,” Harriet Sandhu told the Daily Pilot in a phone interview Thursday.

Mohindar "Sandy" Sandhu, left, and Harriet Sandhu, right.
Mohindar “Sandy” and Harriet Sandhu, pictured at a gala for Girls Inc. of Orange County. The nonprofit is one of several that the Sandhus have donated to.
(Courtesy of Harriet Sandhu)


— Newport Beach resident Paul Salata, who created the Mr. Irrelevant Award that honors the last selection of the NFL draft after playing football at USC and in the NFL and the Canadian Football League, died of undisclosed causes Saturday. He was 94.

— The founder of the Boogie Board, Tom Morey, died Thursday in a Laguna Hills hospital at the age of 86. A native of Detroit, he grew up in Laguna Beach. After a divorce he moved to the Big Island of Hawaii, where in the early 1970s he carved his first board of polyethylene foam and sold it for $10. Within a year, according to the L.A. Times, tens of thousands of his Boogie Boards were being snapped up by customers.

Tom Morey photographed with his original 1971 Boogie Board in front and a more recent model (yellow).
Tom Morey, inventor of the Boogie Board is photographed on Capistrano Beach with a more recent model (yellow) and his original 1971 Boogie Board. He died Thursday at the age of 86.
(Los Angeles Times)