California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Aug. 11 announced that all school employees will have to either get vaccinated or submit to regular testing for the CCP virus, making his state the first in the nation to do so.
“To give parents confidence that their children are safe as schools return to full, in-person learning, we are urging all school staff to get vaccinated,” Newsom said in a statement. “Vaccinations are how we will end this pandemic.”
Under the new order issued by the California Department of Public Health, public and private schools serving students in transitional K–12 must verify and trace all their workers’ vaccination status. Workers who are not fully vaccinated will be considered unvaccinated.
Asymptomatic unvaccinated or incompletely vaccinated workers, according to the order, must be tested at least once weekly with either PCR/molecular testing or antigen testing. Those who have recovered from COVID-19 more than 90 days earlier, or those with a previous positive antibody test, will not be exempted from the testing requirement.
The state health department of California is currently experiencing an increase in COVID-19 cases, with 22.7 new cases per 100,000 people per day, with case rates increasing tenfold since early June.
The new order will take effect Aug. 12, and all schools must be in full compliance by Oct. 15, California’s health department said, citing the increase in COVID-19 cases as well as the Delta variant, which is currently the most common variant causing new infections in the Golden State.
“Unvaccinated persons are more likely to get infected and spread the virus,” the department said. “Almost all K-6th graders are unvaccinated and will not be eligible for vaccines at the outset of the 2021-22 school year.”
Prior to the statewide order, several large public school districts, including San Jose Unified, San Francisco Unified, and San Diego Unified, had already rolled out their own vaccine mandates for employees. Los Angeles Unified, the second-largest public school system in the nation, has gone even further to require weekly testing of all students and employees, regardless of their vaccination status.
The vaccine mandates for school employees have been applauded by teachers’ union leaders and Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden. In a Aug. 10 interview with MSNBC, Fauci said that state and local governments should require teachers to be vaccinated against the CCP virus.
“I’m going to upset some people on this, but I think we should,” Fauci replied, when asked if teachers should be mandated to get vaccines. “This is very serious business. You would wish that people would see why it’s so important to get vaccinated.”