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Newsom Announces All California Teachers Must Be Vaccinated or Tested Weekly

-Editorial

To best protect students and staff as California starts the school year fully in person, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) today issued a new public health order requiring all school staff to either show proof of full vaccination or be tested at least once per week.

“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,” said Governor Newsom. “As a father, I look forward to the start of the school year and seeing all California kids back in the classroom.”

The new policy for school staff will take effect on August 12, 2021, and schools must be in full compliance by October 15, 2021.

“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,” said Dr. Tomás J. Aragón, CDPH 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.”

In recent weeks, California has led the nation in implementing measures to slow the spread of COVID-19, including:

  • Vaccine verification for state workers. Requires all state workers to either show proof of full vaccination or be tested at least once per week, and encourages local governments and other employers to adopt a similar protocol. Following California’s announcement, some of the largest California businesses and local governments followed suit, as did the federal government.
  • Vaccinations for health care workers. Requires workers in health care settings to be fully vaccinated or receive their second dose by September 30, 2021.
  • Universal masking in K-12 settings. Aligned with guidance from the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics, California was the first state to implement universal masking in school settings to keep students and staff safe while optimizing fully in-person instruction.
  • Medi-Cal vaccination incentives. $350 million in incentive payments to help close the vaccination gap between Medi-Cal beneficiaries and Californians as a whole, significantly stepping up outreach in underserved communities.
  • Statewide mask recommendation. In response to the spike in COVID-19 hospitalizations and new CDC guidance calling for masking, the state recommended mask use for indoor public settings regardless of vaccination status.

As of last week, California administered 335,009 new first doses, a 24 percent increase compared to the previous two weeks. This is a 62 percent increase compared to the week of July 5- July 11. Today’s policy will help keep staff and students safe while encouraging additional vaccinations.

“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,” said California Teachers Association President E. Toby Boyd.

“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.”

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