California is requiring all teachers & staff get vaccinated or undergo weekly testing

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.

[From The Los Angeles Times]

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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46 Responses to “California is requiring all teachers & staff get vaccinated or undergo weekly testing”

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  1. heygingersnaps says:

    something similar has been happening here in the UK (in England specifically, not sure about the others), I think it started early this year when schools were opened again. My partner who works in a non teaching role at a secondary school was one of the staff members who were tasked to oversee, weekly covid lateral testing for the students and staff.
    He has had his two doses of the astrazeneca vaccine early this year and I think (& hope) that the majority of staff there have had the two doses covid-19 vaccine as well.
    In our small family circle all the adults have been vaccinated but I feel bad & worry for my 5 year old son as children are not yet eligible for that vaccine.
    The primary schools were also offered to do weekly lateral flow tests to catch any early signs of covid-19 so that is what we are going to do when school starts again.

  2. faithmobile says:

    The New York Times had an article recently that was very critical of California and asked why people would stay here if the weather wasn’t perfect. Well here is a great reason: our politics. I have lived all over the country and I am ride or die for this state, sure we have problems with homelessness and a rapidly changing climate but we will figure it out because we an educated populace and the financial power of the 5th largest economy. Vote no on the recall!

    • Jc says:

      New Yorkers should be quiet seeing how many scandals their white male politicians have been in the past decades. The worst thing that Newsom has done was a bone headed dinner at French Laundry.

    • Pixelated says:

      ITA. I’ve always considered CA to be in general a leader in progressive legislation. Of course the system isn’t perfect but in general I hold it in high regard.

    • Yup, Me says:

      Agreed. I would love to live in a nation like Denmark (but with better weather and more diversity). The US is far from Denmark but CA is the one state that seems to be heading in that direction first.

    • Noodle says:

      Come to Orange County. I don’t recognize my city anymore with the rash of white supremacist, Trump BS. While in general I agree with your assessment of California (and I don’t imagine living anywhere else), there are so many people down here who will fight tooth and nail to maintain the systemic racism – it’s really sickening to see.

      • Anna says:

        I really want to move back (lived there as a child, very happy memories, part of my family lives there). But @Noodle your comment about the maintenance of systemic racism is one of my biggest worries. I don’t know if it would be worse than where I live now but it worries me. I don’t want to waste time moving somewhere only to encounter the same or similar. No place is perfect but some places are more perfect than others.

    • GGRosey says:

      Its the finest place I’ve ever lived for the last 30 years. Not moving.

    • AmelieOriginal says:

      Well also MA? Massachusetts was the first state to legalize same sex marriage. Also I am not from MA and it’s honestly the only thing I can think of the top of my head that makes MA more progressive than other states but it does seem to lead among the New England/Northeastern states.

      • Anna says:

        Massachusetts is great also for the health care, more like socialized care than anywhere else in this country. I lived there prior to that but still have many friends and fond memories. The only thing is that it’s a small state with a lot of small town energy which is great in some ways but really backwards and lacking in diversity in others. And no one checks themselves. It’s like a lot of progress made in other places just doesn’t register there. The only thing that really brings diversity is the university and college systems but those are in specific isolated areas. The last time I went back to visit, I was really struck by how complacent in systemic racism it is. (Not talking about Boston here, that’s a whole other story)

  3. Becks1 says:

    More states should be implementing this (I am very disappointed that as of today my state has not.) Teachers are around the most vulnerable population right now – those who can’t be vaccinated due to age – and they should be required to do what they can to protect the students.

    • Noodle says:

      I work in accreditation and compliance with the Commission for Teacher Credentialing, and California’s Dept of Education. I truly question how he will go about enforcing this. Newsom is facing a recall election, and none of this will happen without the bureaucrats’ approval. It’s a great measure I support; I doubt it will come to fruition. I hope I’m wrong.

  4. Dimsum Mum says:

    In Hong Kong where vaccine has been available to +12′s since June, secondary schools will be able to have full time classes IF over 70 per cent of teachers and students are vaccinated. Unvaccinated teachers need to pay for testing every two weeks.

  5. Annie says:

    Hope Canada implements something soon as well as I go back in a few weeks and am dreading it.

    • Arpeggi says:

      Ontario universities are going for a vax mandate for all staff/students. I wish Qc unis, and the rest of Can would do that too but seems like in Qc at least, their hands are tied by the provincial govt. Staff is really pushing for our administration to step up though, same with K12 unions. Health and education staff should be vaccinated or find a job somewhere else

      • detritus says:

        Our campus just announced the mandate.

        No one can come to campus without full vaccination and everyone must still be masked.

        If you cannot mask you are asked to stay home.

      • Arpeggi says:

        @detritus yeah, that’s what I’d want here too. At least unis in Qc are going further than the province guidelines, requiring masks everywhere outside of eating areas but it’s still not enough. They claim that education being an essential service they can’t ask for a vax mandate (I’d argue that higher ed is a choice and not an obligation and that students who don’t want to get vax could listen to the lectures online and staff can WFH or find another job).
        They also claim that it’s not possible to ask about vaccination status which again: silly! My uni knows about all my vaccination (I work with blood-born pathogens) and the Dean had to ask the Health Ministry the ok so I could get vaccinated early since I’m doing sars-cov-2 work: they were the ones who scheduled my appointment, they know! All med/nursing students need to show they are up to date with their vaccination prior to starting school, it’s not an invasion of privacy, just basic public health and should be applied to all on campus

      • detritus says:

        The only reason we got it was because the faculty union basically refused to come back unless it happened.

        Another union (TAs and more) was also in the works to demand the same thing, plus some liability issues and here we are.

        Not be able to ask vaccination status seems strange. Like a way for those who choose not to to avoid consequences. I had to be rabies vaccinated w official proof to work in a specific lab so I may be a bit biased tho

        If you belong to any unions you might be able ask them to address this as a health and safety issue.

        Fingers crossed for you

      • Arpeggi says:

        We have our next Town Hall next Thursday and I’m sure staff will be coming with (virtual) pitchforks about the lack of mandatory vaccination. Sadly our unions and prof associations can’t do much about it (I know they’ve pushed), it has something to do with the definition of an essential service by the provincial government… And the upper administration’s lack of guts.

        And yeah, I still don’t get why asking for a proof of vaccination in this specific case is seen like such a no-no when my uni has a record of all my immunizations and even my antibody titers for hep A and hep B… I’ll be asked to show a proof of vaccination to go to my ballet classes or a bar (which I’m cool with), but it’s not needed when you pack 200 students in an auditorium for 3 hours?!

      • Christine says:

        Yes! Canada is the gold standard. My son’s school in Los Angeles is waiting on a moment to mandate all kids over 11 are vaccinated. The faculty/staff have all been vaccinated since California gave precedence to educators. It’s so stupid that we are all waiting on a mandate, from on high.

  6. FHMom says:

    Even the teachers’ union backs mandatory vaccination. I am so done with these anti-vaxxers.

    • Betsy says:

      Me too. Selfish fools.

    • Becks says:

      I am a (vaxxed) teacher with LA Unified and we are subjected to weekly testing. The mobile unit comes to our campus, so its super convenient and easy.
      Our union sent out an email this afternoon stating that the board voted to mandate vaccines for all teachers! I’m so glad!

  7. lucy2 says:

    Good! I hope more and more states follow this. We haven’t yet, but have a mask mandate again. Thanks, anti-vaxxers.

  8. lolamd says:

    Thanks Hecate. I didn’t know if I didn’t voted it would count against him. I will vote and make sure friends and family know this as well.

    • Lizzie Bathory says:

      As a non-Californian, I am *so* worried that not enough people will vote against the recall & y’all could wind up with a governor like DeSantis. Thanks to you & Hecate for spreading the word!

  9. salmonpuff says:

    It’s past time for measures like these, so I’m glad to see it happening. I am tired of hearing my governor and other authorities begging people to get vaccinated…just require it at this point. I was thrilled when my daughter’s university announced a vaccine mandate.

    I’m not a California resident, but I hope the recall fails. It would be terrible for the country and the region to have that upheaval there.

  10. Merricat says:

    If people didn’t want the vaccine, they should have worn the masks.

  11. Lexluthorblack says:

    I think you need to both: the vaccine and the masking.

    • Merricat says:

      Absolutely. Especially since those people didn’t do the original masking.

    • Kristen says:

      A week ago our university just announced a vaccine + mask mandate for all faculty, students, and staff. It’s absolutely the right thing to do.

  12. Nancy says:

    The entire staff at my small private school has been vaccinated and we are still wearing masks when school resumes in two weeks. Without any kind of mandates needed. Children under 12 have not been approved for the vaccine yet and our number one priority is to protect them. Why is it so hard for people to not be selfish fools?

  13. Tanya says:

    Good. Now do like Germany and make them pay for their mandatory covid tests.

  14. LarkspurLM says:

    CALIFORNIA RESIDENTS = vote NO on the recall, please!!!!!

    End of message, thank you and have a great weekend!

    • Rise & Shine says:

      Absolutely! Losing Gov. Newsom would be a disaster and the last thing we all need right now. You have a good weekend too Larkspur, and hope all here do as well. LOVE.

  15. psl says:

    I am voting NO on the recall.

  16. lucy2 says:

    If anyone outside of CA wants to help, Postcards to Voters has a campaign to support Newsom in the recall. It’s very easy to participate. I’m going to hopefully do a little stack of them this weekend.

  17. Kkat says:

    I fully support Newsom, and will be voting No on the recall.
    It would be a nightmare if we lose him.

    What’s not being discussed but is also EXCELLENT is you have to show vaccine proof to eat in a restaurant, movies, concert, ect now. Plus masks are mandated indoors in stores ect for everyone again.

  18. Marla Singer says:

    Yes! Ca resident here! Please all vote No on the recall. He isn’t my favorite but the other Republicans running are horrible and will take away all the mandates among other things! Scary.

  19. Yekeyak says:

    They are implementing the same system for teachers in Washington DC, too! Yay!

  20. Jennifer Cox says:

    I am an environmental activist raised in CA and living on the East Coast. Trust me, NO WHERE in the world is safe from the effects of climate change – so the premise of the article was false. Here on the East Coast the face of the climate crisis is increased catastrophic flooding and temps. – both of which kill more people every year, by far, than wildfires. I saw the article you’re referring to in the NYT by Farhad Manjoo. He is a journalist, raised in South Africa, and was educated and began his career on the East Coast. He is a tech writer for the NYT and has not been living in CA for that long. His understanding and perspective on the state is shortsighted and the article was designed as click bait. It is fashionable, at the moment, to pile on on CA. A couple of years ago CA was the darling of the media, when the state was standing up to Trump. The national media is very East Coast centric despite the fact that CA has something like 1/3 of the US Pop and the 5th largest economy in the world.

    • Anna says:

      Agreed and thank you @Jennifer Cox I didn’t appreciate that article and felt it was lacking but you articulate exactly what the issue was.

  21. Rise & Shine says:

    Thank you and I agree with you Hecate! I support Gov. Newsom and his efforts on this, and as someone with long term family and friends in CA, lived there, still do some, I can say in spite of a couple of mistakes, his efforts have been consistent. The idea of a recall is absolutely terrible. Would be a disaster for CA, Democrats everywhere, and all those trying to contain COVID and more. He is not perfect but trust me, the least of our worries. Do your homework, and check what Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, and others say about the recall please? They all say NO to the recall. So do I.

  22. Rise & Shine says:

    Thank you Hecate, and I agree with you and those here. Please vote no on the recall. Senator Elizabeth Warren, Biden, Pelosi, all are asking us to. I am with them. Gavin ain’t no angel but he is doing a good job and we can NOT lose him now. Would be a disaster if we did. Vote no to recall. Sorry, Trumpies and right wingers, we are NOT giving you CA! No way. Do what you can please, love to all.

    • Anna says:

      How is it even at this point! It’s just out of control. He has one year left and has done a remarkable job guiding the state, now this recall? It’s just…I can’t believe it got this far! Praying for CA and will do what I can to support from afar.

  23. Reia says:

    People are going to use this for the recall. CA is not a blue state, there is a lot of red.