October 26, 2021

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Gavin Newsom mandates COVID vaccines to attend school, with no testing alternative – SFGate

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California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Friday that his state will be the first to mandate the COVID-19 vaccine for children in public and private schools.

Under the mandate, the COVID-19 vaccine will be added to the list of other compulsory vaccinations required for schooling such as vaccinations against measles, mumps and rubella. Newsom said that parents can claim religious and medical exemptions. 

The new mandate will be phased in through two phases: One for children grades seven through 12, and another for kindergarten through sixth grade. The requirement takes effect once the Food and Drug Administration grants full approval for specific age groups, the governor’s office said. The office estimates that children grades seven through 12 will have to be vaccinated by July 2022, while the kindergarten through sixth grade timeline is more nebulous as the FDA has yet to issue even an emergency use authorization for the vaccine for children ages 5 to 11.

There is no testing alternative to the mandate, and students who are not vaccinated can remain enrolled in independent study but cannot participate in in-person instruction, the governor’s office said.

“We have no trepidation and hesitancy to encourage local school districts to move more quickly,” Newsom said, speaking of other school districts who have imposed their own mandates.

In the Bay Area, Oakland Unified School District and Piedmont Unified School District became the first districts in Northern California to mandate vaccines but did not announce a timeline.

Los Angeles Unified — the second largest district in the country with 600,000 students — approved a mandate that requires all eligible students 12 years of age and older to get their first shot by no later than Nov. 21 and to be fully vaccinated by Dec. 19. 

SFGATE news editor Amy Graff contributed to this report.

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