California Governor Gavin Newsom makes an appearance after the polls close on the recall election at the California Democratic Party headquarters in Sacramento, Calif., September 14, 2021. (Fred Greaves/Reuters)
At the direction of Democratic Governor Newsom, California will soon be the first state to require that all K-12 students present proof of vaccination as a condition of in-person instruction in public schools.
While teachers are also subject to a vaccine mandate, per an earlier August directive from the California Department of Public Health, faculty and staff can opt out by submitting to weekly testing. Under Newsom’s new order, there will be no testing option for students and the testing option for teachers will phase out as the student vaccination mandate takes effect. Students that remain unvaccinated must attend class virtually. However, some students may qualify for medical and religious exemptions which have yet to be determined.
Once the FDA approves the COVID shot for age groups that would fall into grades 7-12 and K-6, California schools will add it to its list of immunizations required to be physically present on campus for class. It’s unclear whether the vaccine will be a prerequisite for new enrollment or to remain enrolled.
After Newsom survived the recent recall election by a landslide margin, he has resumed work on a number of progressive executive and legislative priorities, including curbing the spread of COVID in California, climate action, and others.
State employees and health care workers are already subject to a vaccine mandate per earlier executive orders. Local governments and private employers have been urged to issue their own requirements and many have followed suit. Like its new vaccine mandate, California was the first state to adopt a universal masking policy for K-12 settings.
“If that’s the intention, to keep us healthy and safe and get our economy moving and get our kids back with all the benefits of being in-person for instruction, then all I say is, ‘Let’s get this done and let’s get others to follow suit,’” Newsom said Friday at James Denman Middle School in San Francisco.
Only the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has received full approval from the FDA for people aged 16 and above, while the Moderna, Johnson and Johnson, and other versions are still only authorized under emergency use. None of the vaccines have yet been approved for children younger than twelve.
Unions representing teachers, nurses, firefighters, emergency first responders, cops, prison guards, etc. across the country have been resisting requirements that their members get vaccinated by staging protests and filing lawsuits. In a number of cases, union workers have resigned to avoid being forced to take the vaccine as a condition of employment.
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