California imposes mandatory vaccination proof and COVID-19 testing requirements for school staff
© WikiMedia (Jernej Furman)
California imposes mandatory vaccination proof and COVID-19 testing requirements for school staff

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) issued a public health order on Wednesday requiring all school staff to show proof of full vaccination or in the alternative submit themselves for COVID-19 testing at least once a week.

The order applies to all public and private schools, including K-12 schools, but does not apply to home schools, child care or higher educational institutions such as colleges and universities.

Documentation accepted as proof of vaccination include COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card issued by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) or World Health Organization (WHO) Yellow Card which includes the name of person vaccinated, type of vaccine provided and date last dose administered; a physical or digital photo of a Vaccination Record Card as a separate document; documentation from a health care provider; digital record with a QR code readable by a SMART Health Card scanner; or documentation from other contracted employers who follow the vaccination records guidelines and standards.

Vaccination records are to be made available upon request by a local health authority in the event of an investigation.

Those who are not “fully” vaccinated are required to undergo PCR or antigen testing at least once a week. The tests must be authorized for emergency use by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or operate in accordance with Laboratory Developed Test requirements of the US Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The order defines “fully vaccinated” individuals as those who have received a second dose at least two weeks prior in a two-dose vaccine series—i.e. Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna or a vaccine authorized by the WHO. Fully vaccinated individuals also include those who received a single-dose vaccine at least two weeks prior—i.e. Johnson and Johnson/Janssen.

Many organizations including the California Teachers Association, Association of California School Administrators, California Federation of Teachers, and California Charter Schools Association strongly support the CDPH mandate and Governor Gavin Newsom‘s efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Newsom stated of the CDPH order:

To give parents confidence that their children are safe as schools return to full, in-person learning, we are urging all school staff to get vaccinated. Vaccinations are how we will end this pandemic…As a father, I look forward to the start of the school year and seeing all California kids back in the classroom.

The state of California has been leading the country’s efforts once again since the emergence of the Delta variant by requiring vaccine verification for all state workers and vaccinations for healthcare workers, imposing universal mask requirements in school settings, and recommending masks statewide in all indoor public settings regardless of vaccination status.

The order took effect on Thursday at 12:01 AM. All facilities covered by the order are required to be in full compliance by October 15, 2021.