Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Wednesday that California will become the first state to mandate that all teachers and other school employees be vaccinated against COVID-19 or undergo periodic testing.
California mandates vaccination or testing for teachers and school employees, Newsom says
Newsom’s announcement comes five weeks before the Democratic governor faces a recall election that gained momentum last year following strict state orders on COVID-19.
The order requires teachers and all school employees, including custodians, aides and bus drivers, to show proof of their vaccination status to their school district.
Employees who are not vaccinated will be required to submit to weekly testing.
“We think this is the right thing to do, and we think it’s a sustainable way to keep our schools open,” Newsom said at an Oakland school.
He noted that the measure is intended to reassure parents that the state’s schools “are doing everything we can to keep our kids safe, to keep our kids healthy.”
California, the nation’s most populous state, is the first to issue a mandate for all its teachers and school employees, including those working in private schools.
California employs about 320,000 people in more than 1,000 school districts. It has more than 6.1 million students. The order says schools and employees must comply by Oct. 15.
It’s not surprising that California has issued such a broad mandate, said Rupali Limaye, a public health professor who studies vaccine decision-making at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
“They’ve always been a bit of a trailblazer, really following the public health evidence, and they’re less likely to cave to political pressure.”
Both the federal government and state and local leaders have issued mandate after mandate on testing and vaccines in hopes of boosting vaccination rates amid a surge in hospitalizations in children and adolescents, a group thought to be safer from the virus and its dangerous symptoms.