Newsom to announce country’s first vax-or-test rules for teachers

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Governor Gavin Newsom plans to announce on Wednesday that California will require all teachers and school employees to be vaccinated or undergo regular Covid-19 tests. | Jeff Chiu / AP Photo

California

Until now, the governor threatened with recall had not demanded the vaccination of teachers for the next school year.

By MACKENZIE MAY

Updated


SACRAMENTO – Gov. Gavin Newsom plans to announce on Wednesday that California will require all teachers and school employees to be vaccinated or undergo regular Covid-19 testing, the first such requirement in the country amid Growing concerns about the Delta variant, according to sources familiar with the Planner.

Under the policy, school employees should present proof of vaccination to their districts. The move comes after three major districts in California announced similar demands on Tuesday and just two days after the president of the American Federation of Teachers, Randi Weingarten, expressed support for such a mandate.

The plan was described to POLITICO by sources who were not authorized to speak before a press conference Wednesday morning at a school in the Bay Area. Until now, the governor threatened with recall had not demanded the vaccination of teachers for the next school year.

The state’s two main teacher unions – the California Teachers Association and the California Federation of Teachers – support the plan, sources said. CTA reports that nearly 90 percent of its members are vaccinated, according to a survey in March.

“We don’t hesitate to lean into this space because of the importance of putting this disease behind us, but when it comes to schools, we are confident in the approach we are taking,” Newsom said on the week. last at an event at an elementary school in San Bernardino when asked about the prospect of a teacher vaccination mandate.

California saw an increase in Covid-19 infections and hospitalizations this summer as the Delta variant took hold and the state reopened its economy on a large scale.

The Democratic governor faces a recall election in less than five weeks, and he has shown no willingness to shut down businesses again as he insisted schools would remain open for full in-person education this school year. Newsom requires all students to wear masks at school – a position criticized by Republican recall candidates – but it does not require people to wear masks at indoor businesses.

Newsom previously imposed vaccine or testing requirements for state employees and an outright mandate on September 30 with limited exemptions for healthcare workers.

The districts of San Francisco, Long Beach, Oakland and Sacramento announced on Tuesday that teachers must show proof of vaccination or get tested regularly for Covid-19 when their campuses reopen this month. They are joining San Jose Unified, which announced the same requirement last month.

“Long Beach is now the only big city [the] State where all public employees of the city, college, school district and state university have mandates, ”said Mayor Robert Garcia in a tweet, noting that Long Beach Unified, which hosts approximately 70,000 students, is the largest district in California to date to have made this decision.

“All public institutions in the state and the country should do the same,” Garcia added.

San Francisco Unified and Sacramento City Unified announced similar policies on Tuesday, with support from their unions. Together, the two districts represent approximately 15,000 employees and more than 100,000 students.

“As we all return to school buildings in person, we are happy to be able to move forward in welcoming students and families with enthusiasm and ensuring the safest possible conditions in the midst of this continuing pandemic,” Cassondra Curiel, president of United Educators of San Francisco, said in a statement.

The state’s largest districts of Los Angeles, San Diego and Fresno have not required vaccines for teachers, but will fall under Newsom’s policy announced on Wednesday.

“We are implementing different layers of security including, but not limited to, periodic COVID testing for all students and staff, vaccinated and unvaccinated, daily screening, improved air filtration systems, requiring the use of face masks and additional staff to clean and disinfect classrooms, ”Los Angeles Unified spokeswoman Shannon Haber said in an email.

At a Public Policy Institute of California event on Tuesday, Linda Darling-Hammond, president of the California State Board of Education, called the vaccine or test rules “a very smart idea.”

In an interview last week, State Superintendent of Public Education Tony Thurmond said he was not against a warrant, but worried that vaccine requirements, which would likely need to be negotiated with unions are ineffective because many schools are running against time. Many districts have already reopened in California, while more are expected to do so within the next three weeks.

“What I can do right now is help more people get vaccinated,” Thurmound said, pointing to “town halls on vaccines” and other awareness events organized by the ministry. of California Education. “We are literally doing everything we can.”



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