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California issues broad school teacher, staff vaccination mandate

California will become the first state in the nation to require teachers and other school employees to get vaccinated or else face weekly Covid-19 testing, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Thursday in Oakland. The broad mandate applies to both public and private schools.

The announcement comes as many K-12 teachers and students have already returned to classrooms for in-person learning or will do so in the upcoming weeks. Newsom announced the new mandate from Carl B. Munck Elementary School alongside Oakland school and city officials.

Newsom said the requirement was important to carry out amid growing number of Covid-19 cases due to the delta variant:

“We think this is the right thing to do and we think this is a sustainable way to keeping our schools open and to address the number one anxiety that parents like myself have… and that is knowing that the schools are doing everything in their power to keep our kids safe, to keep our kids healthy.”

The mandate goes into effect on Oct. 15.

A number of individual Bay Area school districts have recently independently announced similar mandates, including in Oakland, San Francisco and San Jose.

At the press conference, Oakland Unified School District Superintendent Kyla Johnson-Trammell, who announced the district’s mandate late Tuesday, said the requirement will help ensure schools remain safe for staff and students, adding:

“We prioritize safety — both physical safety and the socio-emotional safety of our community — and we felt that this was an important step in that direction in tandem with the other measures that we are taking.”

Keith Brown, president of the Oakland Education Association, who represents the thousands of teachers and school district employees, encouraged those to get vaccinated and welcomed the governor’s announcement.

The state also requires masks be worn at all K-12 schools, that state workers be vaccinated or tested twice each week and health care workers to be fully vaccinated by the end of September.

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