California Issues First Vaccinate-or-Test Rule for All Teachers
(Bloomberg) -- All California teachers and school employees must be vaccinated against Covid-19 or submit to regular testing, Governor Gavin Newsom said Wednesday.
The decision came after the San Francisco, Long Beach and Oakland school districts set similar mandates. The rule makes California the first state in the nation to mandate vaccines for all public and private school employees, including janitors and cafeteria workers.
“The state of California is trying to lead by example,” Newsom said at a press conference in Oakland. “It’s based upon science, argument, and data.”
The new rule applies to all schools serving kindergarten through grade 12. The University of California and the California State University systems have already said they will require proof of vaccines for students and staff.
Newsom, in response to a reporter’s question, said he isn’t currently considering a vaccine mandate for students but “we’ll consider that if necessary.”
The National Education Association, the largest U.S. teachers union, has opposed broad vaccine mandates, saying they should be negotiated at the district level. The second-largest, the American Federation of Teachers previously opposed vaccine orders, but has shifted its stance.
“It’s not a new thing to have immunizations in schools,” President Randi Weingarten said Sunday on NBC News, adding that circumstances have changed. “We need to be working with our employers, not opposing them, on vaccine mandates.”
About 90% of educators and school staff across the country are now vaccinated, according to a White House statement. About 63% of Californians 12 years of age and older are fully vaccinated with an additional 10% partially vaccinated, according to the California Department of Public Health.
California has also mandated vaccines or testing for all state employees and all health-care workers.
©2021 Bloomberg L.P.