SANTA ROSA (CBS SF) — Thousands of parents staged protests statewide Monday, voicing their anger with Gov. Gavin Newsom over his mandate that would require school age children to be vaccinated against COVID in order to take part in classroom instruction.

The largest ‘Our Children, Our Choice’ protest was scheduled at the State Capitol for late Monday morning, but other smaller rallies were set to take place in communities stretching from the San Francisco Bay Area to San Diego.

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A number of parents also kept their children home from public schools Monday morning in protest.

“We are here at the state capital protesting the state mandate,” said Novella Baba of Livermore. She kept her daughters out of school to head to the Sacramento protest.

“I am not anti vaccine. I am anti mandate,” added Baba.

Last year, she and other parents were vocal about getting kids back into the classroom, but Baba said Monday’s protest was about protecting children

“These are our children. Their health is incredibly important and I will not bow down to government telling me what I should and should not put into my children’s body,” said Baba.

Newsom announced the vaccine mandate for students ages 12 and older on Oct. 1, but the deadline for when it would go into effect has not yet been announced.

California’s plan will have all elementary through high school students get the shots once the vaccine gains final approval from the U.S. government for different age groups.

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Several Bay Area school districts including the West Contra Costa County, Oakland, Hayward and Piedmont have put their own mandates in place joining Los Angeles and Culver City in requiring student vaccinations in the months ahead.

Kayla Atwell of Livermore also joined the protest by keeping her daughter home from 4th grade Monday. She said the COVID-19 vaccine for kids should be a parents choice.

“It hasn’t been around long enough for me to feel comfortable with putting something in my daughters body. We don’t know how it’s going to affect anyone long term,” said Atwell.

The Livermore Valley Joint Unified school district said the protest did not have much impact on the number of students at school. A week ago, the attendance rate was 92%. On Monday, it was slightly lower at 88%.

Some parents say they are concerned about the long-term effects the vaccine might have on a child. Others are concerned about personal choice.

“We are not an anti-vaxx community or organization, not by any means. All of our children are vaccinated for other vaccines,” said Parisa Fishback of Orange County’s Moms on the Ground. “But this particular vaccine does not seem to be warranted. And so we are strictly, narrowly against the mandate for the vaccine, for the school children.”

In response to the protests, Newsom’s office issued a statement:

“Vaccines are how we end this pandemic. The state already requires that students are vaccinated against a range of viruses such as measles, mumps, and rubella – there’s no reason why we wouldn’t do the same for COVID-19. This is about protecting our children and school staff, and keeping them in the classroom – these measures are why California leads national trends in preventing school closures and achieving the lowest case rates in the country.”

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Juliette Goodrich contributed to this story.