California is first to require school teachers, staff to get COVID vaccine or be tested weekly

Governor Gavin Newsom's policy applies to public and private school teachers, staff, and volunteers.

Published: August 11, 2021 6:17pm

Updated: August 11, 2021 7:10pm

California is the first state to requireme all teachers and school staff get the COVID-19 vaccine or be tested weekly, according to reports.

Governor Gavin Newsom announced the policy on Wednesday as some schools have already opened for in-person classes this week, while others will in the weeks ahead, the Associate Press reported.

"We think this is the right thing to do and we think this is a sustainable way to keeping our schools open and to address the number one anxiety that parents like myself have for young children," Newsom, a father of four, said.

Similar requirements have already been instituted in several large school districts, such as San Francisco, San Jose, Oakland, and the Long Beach Unified, according to the wire service.

Newsom's mandate affects hundreds of thousands of public and private school teachers, staff, and volunteers.

A mask mandate has already been issued for teachers and students, and healthcare workers are required to be fully vaccinated, while all state employees can choose to be vaccinated or get tested weekly.

Newsom, who is facing a recall election due to his COVID-19 restrictions, said on Wednesday: "Not everybody will be overwhelmed by this but we think it will be well received because it is the right thing to do to keep our most precious resource healthy and safe, our children here in this state."

The California Teachers Association and the California Federation of Teachers, two of the state's largest teachers unions, support Newsom's vaccination policy, according to the AP.

"Educators want to be in classrooms with their students, and the best way to make sure that happens is for everyone who is medically eligible to be vaccinated, with robust testing and multi-tiered safety measures," California Teachers Association President E. Toby Boyd said in a statement.

The California Federation of Teachers supports the option for weekly testing, said Matthew Hardy, a spokesman for the union. "We do not think people should lose their jobs over this," he added.

Schools have until Oct. 15 to fully comply with the new policy, which gives schools time to check vaccination status and institute weekly testing for staff who are unvaccinated, said Amelia Matier, a spokeswoman for Newsom.

As far as requiring students to receive a COVID-19 vaccine should it be approved for children under age 12, Newsom said, "We'll consider all options in the future," he said, answering a question. "We believe this is a meaningful first step."

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