Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a first-in-the-nation mandate Friday requiring eligible students to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to attend in-person classes at public and private schools.
The requirement, however, will not take effect right away. The mandate will be phased in beginning the school term after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration gives full authorization for the vaccine’s use on children aged 12 and over, meaning the policy likely won’t take effect until next year, potentially not until the fall, beginning with kids in grades 7 and up.
The requirement for students in kindergarten through sixth grade will not take effect until a vaccine receives approval for younger children.
The Pfizer vaccine is currently fully authorized for people aged 16 and up. It is offered only under an emergency-use authorization for those aged 12-15.
Newsom said religious and medical exemptions will be permitted under the state’s mandate.
The mandate will also apply to all school staff as soon as it kicks in for students. School teachers and staff in the state are already required to be either vaccinated or submit to weekly COVID testing. The mandate will eliminate the testing option.
“While there continues to be encouraging signs and continuing to see progress with more and more people who maybe were on the fence, that are now getting the vaccine … there’s still a struggle to get to where we need to go, and that means we need to do more and we need to do better,” Newsom said while making the announcement at a school in San Francisco.
The Los Angeles Unified School District, the largest district in the state and second-largest in the nation, has already imposed a vaccination mandate for its students and staff.
The LAUSD mandate requires all students 12 and over who participate in in-person extracurricular activities to have their first vaccine dose no later than Sunday, and be fully vaccinated by Oct. 31. All other students must receive their first dose by Nov. 21 and their second by Dec. 19. Younger students will have to receive their first dose no later than 30 days after their 12th birthday, and their second dose no later than eight weeks after turning 12.
All LAUSD teachers and staffers must be fully vaccinated by Oct. 15.
The Culver City Unified School District has also adopted a vaccine mandate for students, expected to take effect Nov. 19.