Health and Science

California teachers and school staff required to prove vaccination or get weekly Covid tests

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Key Points
  • California will require all school staff in the state to submit proof of vaccination or take mandatory weekly Covid tests for the upcoming school year.
  • Staff affected by the new requirement include teachers, para-educators, custodial staff and bus drivers.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom makes a gesture as he speaks during a news conference at San Bernardino Unified School District Office after visiting Juanita B. Jones Elementary School in San Bernardino on Friday, Aug. 6, 2021.
Watchara Phomicinda | MediaNews Group | Getty Images

California will require all school staff in the state to submit proof of vaccination or take mandatory weekly Covid tests for the upcoming school year as students and teachers prepare for full in-person learning this fall, California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Wednesday.

The Golden State already requires vaccines or mandatory testing for state employees and health-care workers. That policy took effect on Aug. 5.

"We're now following up today to align our school strategy to the state strategy and become the first state in the country to require that all of our staff ... submit a verification of vaccination or submit to weekly testing," Newsom said.

About 77.5% of all eligible Californians have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, but the governor said there is still more work to do.

The overwhelming majority of teachers in the state are already vaccinated, "but we need to get the other staff vaccinated as well," Newsom said.

Staff affected by the new requirement include teachers, para-educators, custodial staff and bus drivers.

"We think this is the right thing to do, and we think this is a sustainable way to keeping our schools open," Newsom said.

Newsom's announcement comes just hours after Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, said she supported vaccine mandates for educators. The White House reports that approximately 90% of teachers are already vaccinated, but the leader of the nation's second-largest teachers union said schools should allow unvaccinated faculty time off to get immunized and allow exemptions for medical and religious reasons.

Over the last two weeks, several states have implemented mask mandates for schools without going as far as a vaccine requirement. Louisiana's statewide mask mandate encompasses all levels of education from kindergarten through college, while Illinois and New Jersey require masks for all students through 12th grade.

New Jersey also mandated vaccines for state employees in health care and prisons. In New York, vaccinations are required for state hospital employees. MTA and Port Authority employees must also provide proof of vaccination or submit to weekly testing.