OAKLAND, Calif. (KRON) — California is enforcing all school staff to either get the COVID-19 vaccine or get tested for the virus weekly, Gov. Newsom announced while visiting an Oakland elementary school on Wednesday.

Newsom said California is the first state to require this, in efforts to protect those who are unable to get vaccinated from the highly contagious delta variant of COVID-19.

At this time, children under the age of 12 are not eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

State officials hope this requirement will encourage people to get vaccinated, even though they can alternatively choose to submit to a COVID-19 test at least once a week.

The requirement does not just include teachers, but also all adults who work in California public schools in any capacity, such as custodians.

“We don’t distinguish this versus all the other rules and requirements” for people who work in California schools, said Newsom. “We’re confident we will see compliance.”

The new policy for school staff will take effect August 12, 2021, and schools must be in full compliance by October 15, 2021.

California Teachers Association President E. Toby Boyd is in support of the requirement.

We know from our surveys that nearly 90 percent of educators have already been vaccinated. Yet in the past few weeks, we have seen a rising spread of the Delta variant, especially among children, just as the new school year is starting. Educators want to be in classrooms with their students, and the best way to make sure that happens is for everyone who is medically eligible to be vaccinated, with robust testing and multi-tiered safety measures. Today’s announcement is an appropriate next step to ensure the safety of our school communities and to protect our youngest learners under 12 who are not yet vaccine eligible from this highly contagious Delta variant.

E. Toby Boyd

Newsom’s visit to Alameda County comes the week Oakland Unified School District had its first day of school with most students coming back for in-person learning. At the time of reopening, the school district did not require its staff to be vaccinated or have a regular testing protocol in place for the unvaccinated.

However, on Tuesday, school officials said they are mandating that all OUSD staff, contractors, and volunteers get vaccinated or get tested weekly.

By September 7, the school district expects all its employees to be either fully vaccinated, or get a COVID test at least once a week.

OUSD will also begin requiring face masks even when outdoors, while the state only enforces indoor masking in schools at this time.

The new requirements were added because Alameda County’s “current high transmission rates,” the school district said.