California is the first state to require covid vaccines for school children

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Many of us have wondered why the Covid vaccine hasn’t been required for eligible school-aged kids. They have to show proof of vaccination for other highly contagious diseases, it seems like the coronavirus would fall into that category now that the Delta variant is affecting children. Whatever the reason was, Governor Gavin Newsom is not having it anymore. Emboldened by his recall victory or maybe just tired of watching people get sick when a vaccine exists, he announced a policy requiring both public and private school students in seventh to 12th grades to receive the vaccine in order to attend school. Those who do not receive the vaccine will need to pursue independent study at home. California will be the first state in the union to put this mandate in place.

California will become the first U.S. state to require Covid-19 vaccinations for children to attend public and private schools in person in a mandate that could impact millions of students.

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday announced that the coronavirus shot will be added to 10 other immunizations already required for school kids, including those for measles and mumps.

Exemptions would be granted for medical reasons or because of religious or personal beliefs but the exemption rules haven’t been written yet pending public comment.

Any student without an exemption who refuses to get the vaccine would be forced to do independent study at home.

“We want to end this pandemic. We are all exhausted by it,” Newsom said during a news conference at a San Francisco middle school after visiting with seventh graders.

“Vaccines work. It’s why California leads the country in preventing school closures and has the lowest case rates,” Newsom said.

[From NBC News]

The bill is still being written and we all know how long the bureaucratic red tape can take. I still wonder why this wasn’t in effect at the start of the school year. But given the responses to Newsom’s announcement, it’s probably politically based. The article quotes two mothers who are furious over the mandate. One thinks Newsom is motivated solely by politics. The other has elementary school aged kids and is worried that there are “a lot of unknowns” with the vaccines for 5 to 11-year-olds we’re waiting on. I’m done with the political game argument. This is about saving lives and stopping the spread of a virus, which is not political. Demanding the right to die while endangering those around you is political, though. The argument that the vaccine has “unknowns” is premature. As soon as it gets emergency use approval, it will mean the best minds in this country have said enough *is* known about it to trust it. Whatever argument people are trying to cling to, they are being given fair warning: if you don’t want to vaccinate your child, find a home-schooling option now.

I hope that the vaccine is approved for 5 to 11-year-olds soon. I was speaking to a first-grade teacher this weekend about what a nightmare teaching is right now. She must report every sniffle and cough and has to stay home until she can get tested by the districts’s testing site. There’s a new tracing report every day of some kid in contact with a relative/friend who tested positive for Covid. The child must stay home in quarantine until they’re tested. She hasn’t had consistency in her attendance since school began. I feel for you elementary school workers out there. I feel for everyone working in these conditions. I’m so sorry more people aren’t working to protect you.

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(FILE) Gavin Newsom says California needs 50,000 hospital beds to respond to coronavirus COVID-19 Pa...

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43 Responses to “California is the first state to require covid vaccines for school children”

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  1. Millennial says:

    I agree with the mandate in theory, but it will have consequences. Parents will pull their kids, and it will be another nail in the coffin for public education, which has been slowly privatizing for decades. Not to mention the kids who *most* need to meet other kinds of people with different world views from their parents are going to be the ones pulled out. I have mixed feelings.

    • Sigmund says:

      Republicans have been undermining public ed for decades, and I say this as a former teacher. The writing is on the wall for public education unless the Dems push back.

      Teachers deserve to be safe. Students deserve to be safe. If this means some people pull their kids from public school, so be it. Republicans will find a way to make that happen either way.

      • Millennial says:

        Reagan and Bush got the ball rolling, but good chunk of the privatization of public education happened under the Obama Administration – including the Gates’ (also Democrats) many private incursions on public schools and Common Core. Republicans just gleefully watched while we did some of their job for them.

        The fact still stands that children will be the ones who lose out on decent education when their wacko parents pull them. These will be parents with the resources to homeschool or send to private school, meaning we lose even more resourced parents in public schools, with their outsized political clout, which will further exacerbate educational inequality. I think it’s okay to both support the idea of a mandate and pause and consider the consequences on children and consider other alternatives (eg perhaps the unvaxxed must mask or undergo weekly testing). I don’t have all the answers but I’m not going to be surprised if this results in thousands of kids getting subpar homeschool educations.

      • Tiffany :) says:

        Right now we’re in a situation where we can chose between mask and vaccination mandates (which might cause some kids to get home schooled) OR have many more children and teachers get ill and possibly die. Neither option is ideal, but clearly one is the the reasonable answer.

        Our education system has many issues. While vaccine mandates might intersect with those issues, the mandates don’t cause the issues. We can’t be a death cult, safety has to come first.

    • Ashley L. says:

      The private school route won’t necessarily be a safe haven for anti-vaxx parents, depending on the type of private school and where it is located. I know someone who’s son attends a private school in NYC and the school required all students 12 and up to be vaccinated.

      • Christine says:

        My son attends a private school in L.A., and they sent an email on Friday that ALL students will need to be vaccinated for the 22-23 school year. Something like 90% of the students older than 11 have already been vaccinated, so the anti-vax crowd won’t find a safe haven here. I think a lot of the private schools in L.A. are taking the same approach, thankfully. Hopefully it’s the same throughout California.

      • Bean says:

        My son attends private school in the Bay Area and all students 12 and up need to be vaxxed, teachers and staff too. As soon as there is a vaccine for 5+ the kids need to be vaccinated. My cousins kids attend a private school where the parents need to be vaccinated too.
        Not many anti-vaxxers around here though tbh.

    • BeanieBean says:

      It’s a mandate for public AND private schools.

  2. LillyfromLillooet says:

    Ze–ro mixed feelings here. This is life and death.

  3. goofpuff says:

    School reporting is a joke if you live in a red area ( I live in Texas) assume the numbers are really 10 times higher. They find loopholes not to report anything. I am looking forward to it being available for my kids.

    • Stacy Dresden says:

      Agree. I live in a southern state with a Dem governor. I recently found out that our very large school system is essentially getting away with NEVER informing parents when their child is exposed to a covid positive student because – we have a mask policy. Therefore, no one is exposed. I couldn’t believe it. We get these automated emails I assume (they aren’t clear in the wording) are mandatory to go out to all parents when someone reports a student or teacher case. The emails state those affected will be contacted. Only, no one is ever actually contacted because they don’t consider a student sitting next to yours with covid, being exposed. Because the kids all wear cheap bs masks.

    • molly says:

      My whole state just decided it didn’t want to report COVID stuff anymore. Hello from that big data hole in the middle of the country!

  4. Becks1 says:

    Our county just changed the quarantine requirements so that if you are directly exposed to someone who tests positive, you don’t have to quarantine unless you’re symptomatic. Basically our quarantine numbers were too high and people were getting ticked. So now exposed students who may potentially have the virus and just don’t have any symptoms yet can go to school and potentially infect more students. It seems like a genius plan.

    So yeah, mandate the vaccine. We require chicken pox vaccines, MMR, pertussis, etc. Add COVID to the list.

  5. FCH says:

    They had me until the exemption for “personal beliefs”. There should be no exemptions except for medical ones that are backed by a doctor who holds a medical license. Non-medical exemptions are the reason we are having measles outbreaks again.

    • Willow says:


      • BothSidesNow says:

        I agree as well, including religious beliefs. FFS it’s a solution to NOT dying, or placing those in your day to day life into the potential of dying! There is no grey area here, take the shot, save your life! Protect all of those around you. Either vaccinate and become an active member of society, or don’t and keep your fat ass and mouth at home permanently!! Those that refuse the science ARE the ones making it political, NOT the politicians OR the CDC, POTUS or the FDA!! Protect everyone and yourselves!

        And zero exemptions unless it’s medical and from an accreditation MD!! No religious exceptions, FFS take the shot!

  6. Stacy Dresden says:

    Yeaaaaa! Now eliminate the religious exemptions

  7. HelloDolly! says:

    I like Newsom but never been a fangirl of his good looks. HOWEVER, every law he passes in his post-recall spite is making him more and more dreamy to me. “You don’t want to get vaccinated? Cool, I am vaccinating all your kids,” and “Blue lives matter, oh really? Awesome, let’s pass this police reform policy that decertifies cops after serious misconduct.” Love it.

    • goofpuff says:

      that’s great! it seems he realizes that he’s got nothing to lose and to go all in.

    • sparky says:

      @Hello Dolly I’m with you on Newsom. His hair bugs me, for a period of time he was married to Kimberly Guilfoyle and that French Laundry business was downright stupid. Aaaaaand, he’s been on top of the Covid crisis. I was really impressed with how Newsom dealt with Trump early on in the pandemic. He did just enough to assuage Trump’s ego in order to get items CA needed from the Feds without being a total a** licker. Yup, I’ve voted for Newsom every time he’s been up for election.

    • Tiffany :) says:

      Newsom won me over early in the pandemic, because my employer wasn’t taking the pandemic seriously…until Newsom issued stay-at-home orders, and then all of a sudden they realized it was really happening. Newsom took drastic action very early on, and I think he truly saved tens of thousands of lives in California, possibly mine.

      • Christine says:

        Same, I am certain of it.

      • Dierski says:

        Same here too – the early days of his initial mandates made me feel proud to be a Californian, whose governor was actively trying to help and save lives.

    • Meg says:

      I think he looks better since going grey-his wife is beautiful too,
      a good looking couple and the more he does like this along with the police reform you mentioned, the more i like him

  8. faithmobile says:

    Our school district in the bay area has had zero closures since school resumed(last fall) because they were serious about tracing, mask wearing and mixed distance/in person learning, k-12 had summer school for the first time and now we have a mobile testing vehicle that tests students regularly. The school district has proven to me that you can meet the needs of the students and keep them safe with full transparency for parents. California already mandated vaccines for public schools about 5 years ago with very limited exemptions so there is already precedent.

  9. tback says:

    In California there is “home schooling,” which is when a parent registers with the county, finds a curriculum program, and educates their own children, and “independent study,” which is provided by a public school district. I am an independent study teacher in a California public school district. Giving the non-vaccinated an “independent study” option, especially with a the percentage of people refusing the COVID vaccine, will require districts to create big, separate independent study programs. It will be an expensive and logistical nightmare IMO. I’m lucky that my area has a very high vaccination rate, but it will still be a huge undertaking for districts to provide independent study to anyone refusing to have their children vaccinated.

  10. Gab says:

    I want my kids to get the vaccine. But I don’t “feel” for the teachers. My son’s teachers taught them zero things last year and were literally doing their nails during zoom “classes”. I “feel” for my kid that was robbed of an education. We need to get it together so that the zoom school stuff is not even a threat of an option because it is horrible. I’m ok with a vaccine mandate but the virtual school has to go forever.

    • Rapunzel says:

      Gab- a teacher who’s worked 5 times harder teaching online instead of in class, please know there are lots of caring teachers who worked hard to educate their students remotely. And we are sorry you got one that sucked.

    • Sigmund says:

      I’m sorry you had that experience, but it was not the norm. Teachers and schools have been overburdened during this pandemic. Your student WAS robbed of an education. Yet teachers, paras, and other school staff do not deserve to be asked to risk their lives to provide an in person education in an unsafe environment. They didn’t cause the pandemic, and they should not be blamed for it, either.

    • BothSidesNow says:

      @ Gab, teachers were on a national level working their asses off to ensure that they were teaching their students to the best of their ability over a screen. I’m sorry that your child was stuck with a dud, but that was not the norm. I heard and read stories of how far the teachers were reaching out to students to ensure that they were being properly taught. That they ensured that the students that needed the necessary tools, that they were actually driving to the homes of students. People become teachers due to the love and devotion to reaching and teaching these developing and growing minds, not for the money or the gratitude, it’s out of love and devotion.

  11. Bettyrose says:

    Pre Covid, California had a weird trend of angry Karens refusing school vaccinations because something something Jenny McCarthy. I have to wonder if these Marin County homeschoolers are embarrassed now to be sharing a cause with the least educated segments of the reddest states.

    • goofpuff says:

      The key part of that group is they don’t feel any embarrassment. Because they are incapable of being that self-aware.

    • BothSidesNow says:

      @ Bettyrose, I wish that they would censor people like her that have zero medical training to spew her unfounded claims. Anyone who is spewing misinformation should be labeled as their own personal views, nothing more. Because that is what it is, personal views with zero medical backing.

      When will society start behaving like adults and not a bunch of overzealous idiots?

    • Dierski says:

      +1 @Bettyrose

  12. Lunasf17 says:

    All the anti vax parents will just do the religious/personal belief exemption. I don’t see this changing anything. Parents do it all the time where I live and know what doctors to go to and how to do the paperwork. Of course it’s the super pricey Waldorf school near me that has less than half the students vaccinated because it’s the wealthy, hippy parents near me that are anti vax and have the resources the risk it.

    • Kkat says:

      Unless they add a religious exemption specifically for the covid vaccine, you are not allowed religious exemption for regular vaccines in California in public schools.
      And they are very strict with the health exemptions

  13. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    Can’t wait to watch school board coverage when this goes wide. People are going to shat themselves in public.

  14. Elise says:

    But there is no vaccine mandate for teachers in CA. The kids need a better union 🤷‍♀️

    • Sigmund says:

      FYI the California teachers union (California Teachers Association) officially supports vaccines. They do have to reach an agreement as to the requirements with the districts, however. That’s to be expected. The union protects teachers’ jobs, even the anti-vaxxers.

  15. Daniel says:

    Oh! Thank you California

  16. jferber says:

    I like this governor and hope he gets elected again. And for those cynics who say the 300 million dollars for his campaign to avoid recall depleted Democratic resources, they know absolutely nothing. Democrats have deep pockets for honorable causes.