California is the first state in the nation to require all teachers to get the COVID-19 vaccine as classrooms open for the fall semester.
Gov. Gavin Newsom called it a “meaningful first step” in keeping teachers and students safe.
“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. Vaccinations are how we will end this pandemic,” Newsom said in a release. “As a father, I look forward to the start of the school year and seeing all California kids back in the classroom.”
For teachers who do not get vaccinated against COVID-19, they must submit a weekly regimen of COVID-19 testing. Teachers who refuse both will be punished, Newsom said Wednesday.
The new policy takes effect Thursday and schools must fully comply by Oct. 15.
Some districts, such as San Francisco and Oakland public schools, already announced a similar requirement.
“There’s no substitute for in-person instruction, and California will continue to lead the nation in keeping students and staff safe while ensuring fully open classrooms,” Dr. Tomás J. Aragón, California Department of Public Health director and state public health officer. “Today’s order will help the state’s continued efforts to increase vaccinations, similar to the orders encouraging state and health care workers and businesses to get vaccinated.”
The new requirement has the support of the state’s largest public union, which represents the state’s public school teachers.
“Educators want to be in classrooms with their students, and the best way to make sure that happens is for everyone who is medically eligible to be vaccinated, with robust testing and multi-tiered safety measures,” California Teachers Association President E. Toby Boyd said. “Today’s announcement is an appropriate next step to ensure the safety of our school communities and to protect our youngest learners under 12 who are not yet vaccine eligible from this highly contagious delta variant.”
The state also was the first to require all state workers to get vaccinated against COVID-19 as a condition of their employment.
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