(CALMATTERS) – Teachers and other school employees across California have a choice to make in the coming weeks: Get vaccinated, get regularly tested or find another job.
Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the new mandate at an elementary school in the Oakland hills Wednesday. This comes a week after he rolled out a similar first-in-the-nationvaccine requirement for all healthcare workers. This new rule is another first. While Hawaii has a similar policy on the books for public school teachers, California is the first to apply it to all school workers at all schools.
We think this will be well received because it’s the right thing to do — to keep our most precious resource healthy and safe, our children.Gavin Newsom
More on the political response below, but spoiler alert: The news was not well received by everyone.
As CalMatters education reporter Joe Hong notes, public health experts and many parent advocates have been urging the state to adopt a version of this policy for weeks. Many are now applauding the move, as is the California Teachers Association, the state’s largest teacher union, which is fully on board after some early iffy-ness.
The order goes into effect immediately, but schools will have until Oct. 15 to fully comply.
I’m certainly happy to see him do it, but I don’t know why it took this long.Megan Bacigalupi of Open Schools California
The new policy comes as millions of kids across the state — many of whom still aren’t eligible for a vaccine — are returning to school.
How is everyone feeling about that?
There’s understandable anxiety as the state’s COVID hospitalization numbers continue to climb. The Los Angeles Times spoke to one parent who asked herself: “Am I putting our health at risk by going to school in person?”
There’s relief, as one music teacher told Oaklandside: “It was wild trying to get to know middle schoolers on Zoom and teaching music with a delay.”
And then there are feelings, in short supply during this pandemic, that used to invariably arrive with a new school year: Excitement and joy. As one first grade teacher told KQED: “I’m looking forward to just seeing little faces again.”