August 10, 2021

CA lawmakers and teachers unions stop short of a vaccine mandate

Today, as California confronts another wave of the pandemic, people are frustrated that school districts aren’t acting with urgency to require vaccinations for teachers. State lawmakers, however, have yet to issue a vaccine mandate for public school teachers, arguing that a mask mandate, increased ventilation and other existing safety measures are enough.

Legislators have put the decision in the hands of local officials, but most school districts haven’t made vaccination a requirement for teachers either because they’re still exploring the legality of a mandate or there isn’t enough support from local teacher unions. The California Teachers Association is strongly supporting vaccines, but has so far stopped short of endorsing a vaccination mandate for all public school teachers.

Some school districts have settled for the softer alternative of a weekly COVID-19 test, as some are facing advocacy groups that are actively fighting against a vaccination requirement for teachers until the FDA fully authorizes the vaccines.

Despite experts urging universal teacher vaccinations, there has been little momentum among state lawmakers. State Sen. Josh Becker, a Democrat who represents sections of San Mateo and Santa Clara counties, has been one of the few calling on districts to require teachers to be fully vaccinated before returning to campuses.

Gov. Gavin Newsom on July 26 said that state employees and health care workers must be fully vaccinated or be tested for COVID-19 at least once a week. Recently the California Department of Public Health went a step further and ordered all indoor health care workers to be vaccinated.

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