OAKLAND, Calif. -- Calling it a bold step to reign in a resurgent pandemic, Governor Gavin Newsom announced that all California teachers, all public school employees, must show proof of vaccination, or submit to regular COVID testing.
Newsom announced the new policy at an Oakland school that has already reopened after summer break. Many California schools are back in session, with others starting in the coming weeks.
"We think this is the right thing to do," said Newsom. "We engaged robust conversations over the weekend. Over the course of the last few days, we were able to land over the course of yesterday and today we are formalizing this announcement."
Newsom's announcement comes with the support of the California Teachers Association, which claims at least 90% of its members are already fully vaccinated.
"I encourage all who can to get vaccinated," said Keith Brown, President of the Oakland Education Association. "Vaccines work and they keep our students and community safe."
The governor's announcement mirrors a similar move made by the Oakland Unified School District on Tuesday.
"That decision was made to ensure that we are doing our part to keep the schools safe as well as the broader community," said OUSD Superintendent Kyla Johnson-Trammell.
Those teachers who choose not get vaccinated, will keep their jobs, as long as they agree to weekly testing.
"If it were to go beyond that, I believe that there would have to be certain exemptions for medical reasons and we would then look at that when it comes," said Chaz Garcia, Second Vice-President of the OEA.
"There are those who are going to have an adverse reaction and not be happy with it," said Laura Finco, President of the San Ramon Valley Education Association. "But we polled our members, and of those responding, 87 percent said they were in favor of a vaccine or test requirement."
Governor Newsom would not rule out a stricter vaccine mandate in the future.
"If we want to end this pandemic, this disease, we can do it in a month," said Newsom. "That's a choice."
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The AP has contributed to this report