California Governor Gavin Newsom makes a gesture as he speaks during a press conference at the San Bernardino Unified School District Office after attending Juanita B. Jones Elementary School in San Bernardino on Friday, August 6, 2021.

Watchara Phomicinda | MediaNews Group | Getty Images

California will require all school staff in the state to provide proof of vaccination or mandatory weekly Covid tests for the upcoming school year as students and teachers prepare for full face-to-face learning this fall, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced on Wednesday.

The Golden State already requires vaccines or mandatory testing for government employees and healthcare workers. This policy came into effect on August 5th.

“We are following today to align our school strategy with state strategy and be the first state in the country to require that all of our employees … provide proof of vaccination or undergo weekly tests,” Newsom said.

About 77.5% of all eligible Californians have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, but the governor said there was more to be done.

The overwhelming majority of teachers in the state are already vaccinated, “but we need to vaccinate the rest of the staff too,” Newsom said.

Employees affected by the new regulation are teachers, para-pedagogues, supervisory staff and bus drivers.

“We think this is the right thing to do, and we think this is a sustainable way of keeping our schools open,” Newsom said.

Newsom’s announcement comes just hours after Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, said she supported vaccine mandates for educators. The White House reports that around 90% of teachers are already vaccinated, but the chairman of the country’s second largest teachers’ union said schools should allow unvaccinated teachers time out to vaccinate and allow exceptions for medical and religious reasons.

In the past two weeks, several states have introduced mask requirements for schools without going up to a vaccination requirement. Louisiana’s statewide mask mandate covers all levels of education from kindergarten through college, while Illinois and New Jersey require masks for all students through 12th grade.

New Jersey has also mandated vaccines for public health workers and in prisons. In New York, vaccinations are required for government hospital employees. Employees of the MTA and the port authority must also provide proof of vaccination or undergo weekly tests.