The state Department of Public Health stated that the new policy will apply to public and private schools. It will also affect over 800,000 employees. This includes about 320,000 teachers in public schools, as well as a variety of support staff like cleaners and cafeteria workers. It will also be applicable to school volunteers.
Newsom announced the change at a school in San Francisco Bay Area that reopened earlier this year for in-person classes. Many California schools have resumed classes, while others will open in the coming weeks.
Newsom, a father of four, said, "We believe this is the right thing. We think this will sustain our schools open. It will address the number one worry that parents have for their young children." "This is knowing that our children are safe and the schools are doing all they can to protect them."
In recent days, several large school districts across the state issued similar requirements, including San Francisco Unified, Oakland, San Jose, San Jose, and San Jose.
California has experienced a worrying rise in COVID-19 cases, just like the rest. This is due to the delta variant. It accounts for the vast majority. This strain of the virus has been more severe in children than other strains, which has led to a rise in teachers unions opposing vaccine mandates.
California's two largest teacher unions, which are powerful political allies of the governor, affirmed Wednesday that they support Newsom's policy.
Both the California Federation of Teachers and the California Teachers Association cited national and state polling which indicated that nearly 90% of teachers have been vaccinated. However, the California Federation of Teachers stated that the growing spread of the delta variant, especially among children, made the new policy imperative. Children younger than 12 years old are not eligible for vaccination.
E. Toby Boyd, President of the CTA, stated in a statement that educators want to be with students in classrooms.
Hawaii Governor. David Ige, the Hawaii Governor, announced last week that all Department of Education employees would have to declare their vaccination status or face weekly tests. California's order, however, is more expansive and applies to all staff working in public and private schools within California, the nation's most populous state.
Newsom mandated that all health-care workers be fully vaccinated over the last few weeks and that all state employees either get vaccinated regularly or have their shots taken. Based on guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the weekly testing schedule was created.
Newsom already had a mandate for schools that applies to students and teachers. However, Newsom had not yet issued a mandate for schools to use a mask to apply to students and teachers.
The Democratic governor faces danger from vaccine mandates. He is facing a recall election next month, fueled in part because of his handling the pandemic.
California was the first state in 2020 to declare a pandemic lockdown. This shut down schools and businesses across the state. Private schools may still offer in-person classes, but most public schools allow students to learn online for as long as a year. Republican supporters and opponents to Newsom put intense pressure on him to reopen schools. They also wanted him to ignore powerful labor unions. Many public schools were finally reopened last spring. This was despite the fact that they were in poor condition across most of the country.
Newsom called for an immediate return to in-person learning. However, his school-reform mandate has been criticised by Republican candidates who are vying for his replacement.
The new plan was criticized by several GOP candidates on Wednesday. Kevin Faulconer, a former San Diego Mayor, has called for everyone to be vaccinated. He said that state officials shouldn't push uniform orders across the state on all school districts, but should let local authorities decide.
The details of the new policy's implementation were not disclosed. These details, according to labor unions, still need to be worked out.
Matthew Hardy, a spokesperson for the California Federation of Teachers, stated that the union supports the plan which allows for testing.
He stated, "We don't think people should lose jobs over this."
According to Amelia Matier, a spokesperson for the governor's office, schools must comply with the new policy by October 15. This gives them time to check vaccination status and set up weekly testing for those who are not vaccinated.
Newsom didn't rule out the possibility of extending the requirement to students if a vaccine for children younger than 12 years is approved.
He replied to a question by saying, "We'll look at all options in future." "We consider this a significant first step."