NEW: California will be the first state in the nation to require all teachers and school staff to show proof of vaccination or submit to regular testing.
Vaccinations are free, effective and keep our communities safe. https://t.co/iSjTGFPuMl
— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) August 11, 2021
On Wednesday, Gov. Gavin Newsom made California the second state in the US to require state school employees to be vaccinated or submit to regular COVID testing. It was announced earlier this year we would return to 100% in person school in the fall. At that time, the vaccine for 12–17-year olds had just been given emergency use approval and things were looking up for COVID numbers countrywide. Since the Delta variant entered the Golden State, parents have been wondering if our kids would, in fact, make it back to campus. We get weekly emails about precautions and procedures, but they seemed determined to keep K-12 open.
California school employees must be vaccinated against COVID-19 or submit to a weekly test proving they are not infected with the coronavirus under an order announced Wednesday by Gov. Gavin Newsom that positions the state as among the most aggressive in the nation with mandates aimed at keeping campuses safe.
The move represents a measured step in strict school safety guidelines in response to the rapid spread of the Delta variant. Some 1,000 public school districts as well as private schools will be affected by the order, which is set to take effect Thursday and gives schools until Oct. 15 to comply fully.
“We think this is the right thing to do,” Newsom said. “And we think this is a sustainable way to keeping our schools open and to address the No. 1 anxiety that parents like myself have for young children — and that is knowing that the schools are doing everything in their power to keep our kids safe.”
The governor represented the new order as a first-in-the-nation step, although Hawaii got there first with rules covering public-school employees. All told, Newsom’s recent actions underscore a sharp contrast with some governors in other states.
In California, for example, Newsom mandated masks indoors on all campuses — a strategy subsequently endorsed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In contrast, the governors in Arkansas, Florida and Texas forbad mask mandates. Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson later said he regretted the move but had trouble walking it back. In Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis has doubled down, threatening to withhold the salaries of officials who insist that local students wear masks.
This sounds like a huge move in light of other states “don’t tell me what to do” legislation. However, several California counties were already adopting similar policies previously. So this is a great step, certainly, but the ball was rolling. Especially on the heels of county workers in most of the state being issued the same mandate. It’s important that many private schools are supporting the vaccine mandate. Since they’re allowed much more leeway, their support is a big win. The next question is whether the state will extend the mandate to requiring all staff be vaccinated without the opt out of weekly testing. Newsom’s neutral answer at the news conference was they were looking at all options right now. Obviously, that’s a hot button to navigate politically. Fortunately, more and more teachers’ unions are warming to the idea. The article cited a few spokespersons who said their unions were open to a vaccine mandate if it were implemented. I specified K-12 above because University of California and Cal State schools already require faculty to be vaccinated and many private colleges have followed suit. For what it’s worth, Dr. Fauci is on Newsom’s side.
K-12 Students are not required to be vaccinated at this point. Obviously, those under 12 can’t receive the vaccine. All students must wear masks at all times and fill out a daily health questionnaire before entering school grounds. Some school districts are requiring weekly COVID tests for all unvaccinated students. LA Unified is requiring testing for unvaccinated and vaccinated. Who knows how this school year will go but I do think the state is doing everything in their power to make it as safe as possible. I just hope the families are.
Fellow Californians, please allow me to stump for a moment: I have complaints about Gov Newsom but not when it comes to the COVID crisis. Losing him would be devastating. I was so p*ssed about the dumb recall, I wasn’t going to vote at all. But a friend explained how that was basically a vote to get him out. So make sure you get your ballots in. Here’s a link to answer questions about the ballot.
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