BERKELEY, Calif. (KRON) – A COVID-19 vaccine mandate for students ages 12 and over was unanimously passed by the Berkeley Unified School District Board of Education at a meeting on Wednesday.

School officials say students will be required to get fully vaccinated by January 3, 2022, or submit a weekly test onsite.

Once the vaccine is authorized for students ages 5 to 11, the policy will also be in effect for the age group. They will then have four months to get fully vaccinated.

“The Board’s decision last night to require either vaccination or weekly COVID testing for students 12 and older is another important step in our community’s shared effort to end this pandemic,” said Superintendent Brent Stephens. 

In order to attend school in person, students will need to be vaccinated, unless there is a documented medical or religious exemption.

This action comes after Governor Gavin Newsom announced that all California students will need to be vaccinated eventually in order to attend school in person.

“Our policy provides an on-ramp to the statewide mandate that is coming next year,” said School Board President Ty Alper. “Our goal is to increase vaccinations so that we can protect the health and safety of the community, and keep students in school.”

The school district will be required to develop a vaccination campaign with Berkeley’s Public Health Department and community organizations in order to provide information about the safety and efficacy of the vaccine.

Vaccination clinics near or on school campuses will also be required to be sure that all students are able to access a site.

“We are engaged in formal discussion with city partners about how to work together on a youth-focused COVID-19 Public Health campaign,” said School Board Director Ana Vasudeo.