California public and private school staff must now be vaccinated or be tested weekly, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced on Wednesday, Aug. 11.

Newsom said schools must be in compliance by Oct. 15.

“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,” said California Teachers Association President E. Toby Boyd. “The 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 the highly contagious Delta variant.”

The order applies to public and private schools serving students in TK-12 and does not apply to home schools, child care or higher education. All schools identified must verify vaccination status of all workers.

Public Health Order:

Only the following may be used as proof of vaccination:

1. COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card (issued by the Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Disease Control & Prevention or World Health Organization Yellow Card) which includes name of person vaccinated, type of vaccine provided and date last dose administered).

2. A photo of a Vaccination Record Card as a separate document.

3. A photo of the client’s Vaccination Record Card stored on a phone or electronic device.

4. Documentation of COVID-19 vaccination from a health care provider.

5. Digital record that includes a QR code when scanned by a SMART Health Card reader, displays to the reader client name, date of birth, vaccine dates and vaccine type.

6. Documentation of vaccination from other contracted employers who follow these vaccination records guidelines and standards.

Testing requirements:

1. Asymptomatic unvaccinated or incompletely vaccinated workers are required to undergo diagnostic screening testing.

2. Workers are tested with either antigen or molecular tests to satisfy this requirement, but unvaccinated or incompletely vaccinated workers must be tested at least once weekly with either Polymerase Chain Reaction (PTR) testing or antigen testing. Any PCR (molecular) or antigen test used must either have Emergency Use Authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration or be operating per the Laboratory Developed Test requirements by the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

3. Unvaccinated or incompletely vaccinated workers must also observe all other infection control requirements and are not exempt from the testing requirement if they have a medical contraindication to vaccination.

Redlands Unified School District Community Relations Specialist MaryRone Shell said the district already has a system for tracking vaccination status and is working to secure vendors for testing.

“A lot of people aren’t comfortable with the vaccine because they want to see full Food and Drug Administration approval or have their own personal reasons, but the state said unvaccinated employees must opt for weekly testing, so we are researching and securing vendors right now. We want to do whatever we can to ease the burden on our staff,” she said.

Shell said she didn’t see exemptions listed in the public health order. Redlands Unified is required to comply with public health orders or could be liable.

“Sometimes people can have exemptions from vaccinations, but right now, I do not see that in the way the order is written,” she said. “School employees must be vaccinated or be tested weekly.”

The Redlands Unified school year began on Aug. 11. So far, COVID cases have been minimal.

“There have been some reported cases, but what we aren’t seeing is outbreak situations where cases are linked,” said Shell. “Every school site has rapid test kits should they need them. Our collaboration with San Bernardino County and the Department of Public Health has been a tremendous help.”