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California Mandates COVID-19 Vaccination or Regular COVID-19 Testing for Employees of Public and Private TK-12 Schools
On August 11, 2021, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced a new Public Health Order (Order) from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) that applies to public and private schools serving students in transitional kindergarten through grade 12. The Order requires that all public and private TK-12 schools verify the COVID-19 vaccination status of all of their workers, have a plan in place for tracking verified worker vaccination status, make vaccination verification available, upon request, to the local public health jurisdiction for purposes of case investigation, and treat workers who are not fully vaccinated, or for whom vaccine status is unknown or documentation is not provided, as unvaccinated. A worker is considered fully vaccinated for COVID-19 two weeks or more after they have received the second dose in a two-dose series (e.g., Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, or vaccine authorized by the World Health Organization), or two weeks or more after they have received a single-dose vaccine (e.g., Johnson and Johnson/ Janssen).
The Order further requires that all public and private TK-12 schools implement at least once weekly diagnostic screening testing using either PCR testing or antigen testing for all asymptomatic unvaccinated or incompletely vaccinated workers. “Unvaccinated or incompletely vaccinated workers must also observe all other infection control requirements, and are not exempted from the testing requirement even if they have a medical contraindication to vaccination, since they are still potentially able to spread the illness.” Public and private TK-12 schools must also report the results of the diagnostic screening testing to the local public health jurisdiction.
Due to the Order, public and private TK-12 schools must implement a program to collect proof of COVID-19 vaccination status from all employees, which the CDPH has stated may include:
- A COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card (issued by the Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Disease Control & Prevention or WHO Yellow Card) which includes name of person vaccinated, type of vaccine provided and date last dose administered); OR
- A photo of a Vaccination Record Card as a separate document; OR
- A photo of the client’s Vaccination Record Card stored on a phone or electronic device; OR
- Documentation of COVID-19 vaccination from a health care provider; OR
- A digital record that includes a QR code that when scanned by a SMART Health Card reader displays to the reader client name, date of birth, vaccine dates and vaccine type; OR
- Documentation of vaccination from other contracted employers who follow these vaccination records guidelines and standards.
Public and private TK-12 schools must further implement a diagnostic screening testing program for all unvaccinated or incompletely vaccinated workers consistent with the requirements of the Order. Nevertheless, the Order does not preclude private TK-12 schools from implementing a more restrictive COVID-19 vaccination policy requiring all employees to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, with allowances made for religious and disability accommodations and medical exemptions.
Public and private TK-12 schools with questions are encouraged to contact a Liebert Cassidy Whitmore attorney.
This Special Bulletin is published for the benefit of the clients of Liebert Cassidy Whitmore. The information in this Special Bulletin should not be acted upon without professional advice.