he requirements will be phased in by grade groups — 7-12 and K-6 — and will start for each group only after the Food and Drug Administration fully approves the vaccine for that cohort, the governor’s office said in a news release.
“We intend to (have the requirement) once the FDA has fully approved the vaccine, which will give us time to work with districts, give us time to work with parents and educators to build more trust and confidence and build out logistics so that we can deliver on what we are promoting here today,” Newsom said.
“Based on current information, the requirement is expected to apply to grades 7-12 starting on July 1, 2022,” the release said. “However, local health jurisdictions and local education agencies are encouraged to implement requirements ahead of a statewide requirement based on their local circumstances.”The mandate will be a condition of in-person attendance, though independent study is an option for unvaccinated students. The effort aims to protect children and keep them learning in-person, Newsom’s office said.”This will accelerate our effort to get this pandemic behind us,” Newsom told CNN’s Ana Cabrera minutes after making the announcement. “We already mandate 10 vaccines. In so many ways… it’s probably the most predictable announcement.””I have four young kids. I can’t take this anymore. I’m like most parents, I want to get this behind us, get this economy moving again, make sure our kids never have to worry about getting a call saying they can’t go to school the next day because one of the kids or a staff member tested positive,” the governor added.
Realistically, that means the mandate would likely take effect July 1 of next year for students in 7th through 12th grade, although speedy action from the FDA could move up the timeline.
The process of full FDA approval for vaccines for younger students will likely extend into Fall 2022. That means thevaccine mandate for kindergarten through sixth graders to attend school in-person in California wouldn’t kick in until after that.
“The requirement will take effect at the start of the term following full approval of that grade span, to be defined as January 1st or July 1st, whichever comes first. Based on current information, the requirement is expected to apply to grades 7-12 starting on July 1, 2022.”
The Los Angeles County Superintendent of Schools, Debra Duardo, said she supported the governor’s vaccine mandate: “Our students deserve stability, access to school-based resources, services, and support.”
“We are mindful that there is still work to do to build trust and confidence in the vaccine among our school communities,” Duardo said in a statement.
“Once the FDA approves the vaccination, in different cohorts starting with 12 and above — grade 7 to 12 — we will begin to apply that requirement in the next term, either January 1 or July 1, whichever comes sooner,” Newsom said in a press conference on Friday.
So far, no other state has required vaccines for school children, though private grade schools and universities around the country have done so.
There will be exemptions allowed for medical reasons, personal beliefs and religious beliefs, as is the case with other vaccine requirements, Newsom said.
“We want to end this pandemic. We are all exhausted by it. And the purpose of this is to continue to lead in that space,” Newsom said.
California currently has the lowest Covid case rate in the country, although some regions, particularly those where resistance to vaccines and public health mandates remains high, are continuing to see a troubling surge in hospitalizations. Newsom, emboldened after easily defeating a recall effort last month, has emphasized his commitment to vaccine mandates to end the pandemic.
Los Angeles county has already mandated vaccines for all students 12 and over. In the nation’s largest school district, daily infections are down by half in the last month, when most kids went back to school.
“These numbers are amazingly low given that 3,000-plus schools are now open countywide,” said Barbara Ferrer, county health director, on Thursday.
The state’s vaccine mandate would take effect the semester after the federal government grants final approval. If it comes in January, then the mandate would take effect in July.
Students would be granted religious and medical exemptions, but the rules for how the state would apply those exemptions have not been written yet. Any student who refuses to take the vaccine would be forced to complete an independent study course at home.