California school workers must either be vaccinated against COVID or undergo regular testing to prove they are not infected with the coronavirus under a pending order from Gov. Gavin Newsom, sources told The Times Tuesday evening.
Representatives of the Newsom administration briefly discussed the outline of the plan with educators, according to two sources who said Tuesday they were not authorized to speak publicly until Newsom’s official announcement.
Newsom had previously announced a similar policy for state agency employees and an absolute mandate, with limited religious and medical exceptions, for state healthcare workers.
The governor is due to visit an Alameda County elementary school on Wednesday, where details of the proposal are expected to be released. A Newsom spokesperson declined to comment on the event or announcement on Tuesday evening. The proposal was first reported on Tuesday evening by Politico.
A stronger statewide vaccination effort for school workers should be good news for many groups representing these workers. The California Teachers Assn. said 90% or more of its members said they were already vaccinated against COVID-19, and the union pushed for early access over the winter to doses of the vaccine.
Los Angeles Unified, the state’s largest school system, has gone beyond the state’s pending policy on testing requirements. While the state will require that only the unvaccinated undergo regular testing, LA Unified requires weekly testing for all students and employees, whether or not they are vaccinated.
Authorities took this step because of evidence that people who have been vaccinated can catch and transmit the highly contagious Delta variant. The LA Unified test plan will require the collection and processing of approximately 100,000 tests per day.
LA teachers’ union president Cecily Myart-Cruz said teachers should be prepared for a possible vaccine term in the future, but did not approve one. In a recent interview, she said she supports education efforts to persuade teachers and community members to get vaccinated.
The Los Angeles District is also going beyond state guidelines by requiring that students be masked outside at school. At Tuesday’s school board meeting, officials presented such measures – which go beyond state and county requirements – as reasons for anxious parents to feel reassured about their return to school. campus for the next school year, which begins August 16.
For all of Los Angeles County, which has 80 school districts, education officials have estimated that about 83% of employees in K-12 school districts are vaccinated, according to data submitted to the county. by most districts.
The University of California and State of Cal systems have announced strict vaccine mandates for all students and staff, who will be denied in-person classes and indoor campus facilities if they do not. are not vaccinated. Last week, Los Angeles Community College established vaccination rules for staff and students in accordance with the K-12 policy: show proof of vaccination or undergo regular coronavirus testing.
Newsom’s long-awaited announcement comes as several major California school districts have announced similar policies in recent days, including San Francisco Unified and Long Beach. San Francisco will require proof of vaccination for all teachers starting September 7. Any unvaccinated employee should be tested at least once a week for coronavirus infection. The school district has about 10,000 employees and has received about half of the vaccine checks.
“As we are in the midst of an increase in cases and new variants in our community, a vaccine requirement is a necessary step to ensure the safety of our students, staff and families,” said the superintendent. Vincent Matthews said in a statement.
As the number of cases linked to the Delta variant has increased, there has been a substantial increase in the number of infected children in California and the United States, according to data compiled by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Serious illnesses in children seem to be rare.
Vaccination mandates for school workers received approval on Tuesday from Dr Anthony Fauci, the leading US infectious disease expert. Fauci said state and local governments should require teachers to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
“Yeah, I’m going to upset some people about it, but I think we should,” he said in an interview with MSNBC. “This is a very serious matter. You would like people to understand why it is so important to get the vaccine.
But Fauci added that there would be no federal mandates for vaccinating teachers. Local mandates “for schools, for teachers, for universities, for colleges” would be appropriate, he said.
Times editor Colleen Shalby contributed to this report.