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California to require COVID-19 vaccine or test for teachers

Multiple school districts in the Golden State have either announced vaccine mandates or proposed them for their school districts.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California will be the first state in the nation to require all teachers and school staff receive a COVID-19 vaccine mandate or undergo weekly testing.

The statewide vaccine mandate for K-12 educators comes as schools return from summer break amid growing concerns of the highly contagious delta variant. Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the new policy Wednesday. The requirement will go into effect starting Thursday, Aug. 12. Schools should be in compliance by Friday, Oct. 15. 

In a press release, Newsom said this is being done to "give parents confidence that their children are safe as schools return to full, in-person learning."

"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," California Teachers Association President E. Toby Boyd said in the release.

Following the announcement, Xanthi Soriano, public information officer for the Elk Grove Unified School District, released a statement, saying ever since the vaccine was made available, they've worked with staff and local clinics to offer vaccines. 

"Based on registrations, we know that a majority of our EGUSD staff did get vaccinated," Soriano said.

Joel Boyd, a member of the the Elk Grove Unified School District Parent's Coalition said he hoped the policy would prevent outbreaks that would disrupt in-person classes. 

"It has been very emotional for our kids because they miss their friends, they miss their teachers," Boyd said. 

Multiple school districts in the Golden State have either announced vaccine mandates or proposed them for their school districts. The San Francisco school district says it will require its 10,000 teachers and other staff to get vaccinated for COVID-19 or be tested weekly.

San Jose and Long Beach Unified school districts have issued similar requirements in recent days. Los Angeles Unified, the state’s largest district, is requiring all students and employees to undergo weekly COVID-19 testing, regardless of vaccination status. 

A proposal from the Sacramento City Unified School District could see mandated COVID-19 vaccinations or weekly testing for teachers and other staff.

The proposal was provided Tuesday to the Sacramento City Teachers Association and to other labor groups. Under the proposal, staff would have to provide proof of vaccination by Aug. 30. Otherwise, they'll be required to participate in a weekly COVID-19 testing program. According to the proposal, anyone unvaccinated who doesn't get tested weekly would have a few more chances to get tested. However, if the trend continues, they could ultimately be placed on unpaid leave. 

The Orange County Board of Education in Southern California announced plans to sue Newsom over a state mandate requiring K-12 students to wear masks in classrooms.  

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Gov. Newsom announces California will require COVID-19 vaccine or test for teachers