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What California’s New Student Vaccine Mandate Means for Your Child

Gov. Gavin Newsom said Friday, October 1, that students will soon need to be vaccinated against the coronavirus to attend school in person in California. Here’s what you need to know about the new vaccine mandate.

Q: What is the new requirement?

A: Children must be vaccinated against the coronavirus to attend schools in person, starting the school term after the vaccines have full approval from the FDA for two different groups. The requirement will be phased in by grade span, first grades 7-12 and then K-6. School staff will also need to be vaccinated by the time the requirement applies to the first cohort.

Q: Does this apply to private schools as well? 

A: Yes. All K-12 public and private schools in California will be covered by the mandate.

Q: So what’s the deadline for getting my student vaccinated?

A. The exact date remains to be seen. The requirement will roll out in phases for grades 7-12 and then for grades K-6. It will become effective in the school term following full U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval of the vaccine for children in those grades. The Pfizer vaccine already has full FDA approval for ages 16 and older, and the company is seeking the same authorization for kids as young as 12. School staff — not just teachers, but bus drivers, custodians, etc. — will also need to be vaccinated at that time. Vaccine requirements for younger children in kindergarten through 6th grade are likely months away.

Q: Aren’t teachers and administrators already required to be vaccinated? 

A: Right now, they have the option to be tested for the virus regularly if they are not vaccinated, but that option will disappear once the FDA gives final approval for that first student cohort.

Q: What if my student isn’t old enough to be vaccinated?

A: The requirement will only apply to children eligible to be vaccinated. No vaccines have been approved yet for children younger than 12, but that could happen later this year or early next year.

Q: What other vaccines are required for California school kids?

A: Vaccine requirements to attend school are not unusual. California already requires kids to have immunizations for polio, diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (DTaP), measles, mumps and rubella (MMR), hepatitis B and varicella (chickenpox).

Q: Will my child be forbidden from going to school if she doesn’t get a shot?

A: Students who are not vaccinated will be permitted to enroll in independent study, but they will not be allowed to attend class in person.

Q: Are there any exceptions? 

A: Yes, there will be exceptions for medical reasons and personal and religious beliefs. A few years ago, the state passed a law that said parents could no longer cite personal or religious beliefs as a reason for not vaccinating their children against a range of diseases. Because the new COVID-19 mandate is a new regulation — and not the result of legislation in Sacramento — the state has to allow for such exemptions.

Q: Will my child still be required to wear a mask at school?

A: Yes, for now. Friday’s announcement did not come with any changes to the requirement that students wear masks indoors.

Q: Does the mandate also apply to preschool and higher education? 

A: No, the mandate is limited to elementary and secondary students. Many universities — including the UC and CSU systems — already require, with limited exceptions, students and staff to be vaccinated.

Excerpted from “Q&A: What California’s new student vaccine mandate means for your child” in the Mercury News. Read the full article online.

Source: Mercury News | Q&A: What California’s new student vaccine mandate means for your child, https://www.mercurynews.com/2021/10/01/qa-what-californias-new-student-vaccine-mandate-means-for-your-child | Copyright ©2021 MediaNews Group, Inc.

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