Enterprise-Record (Chico)

California schools won’t require COVID-19 vaccine to attend

- By Adam Beam

SACRAMENTO, CALIF. >> Children in California won’t have to get the coronaviru­s vaccine to attend schools, state public health officials confirmed Friday, ending one of the last major restrictio­ns of the pandemic in the nation’s most populous state.

Gov. Gavin Newsom first announced the policy in 2021, saying it would eventually apply to all of California’s 6.7 million public and private schoolchil­dren.

But since then, the crisis first caused by a mysterious virus in late 2019 has mostly receded from public consciousn­ess. COVID-19 is still widespread, but the availabili­ty of multiple vaccines has lessened the viruses’ effects for many — offering relief to what had been an overwhelme­d public health system.

Nearly all of the pandemic restrictio­ns put in place by Newsom have been lifted, and he won’t be able to issue any new ones after Feb. 28 when the state’s coronaviru­s emergency declaratio­n officially ends.

One of the last remaining questions was what would happen to the state’s vaccine mandate for schoolchil­dren, a policy that came from the California Department of Public Health and was not impacted by the lifting of the emergency declaratio­n.

Friday, the Department of Public Health confirmed it was backing off its original plan.

“CDPH is not currently exploring emergency rulemaking to add COVID-19 to the list of required school vaccinatio­ns, but we continue to strongly recommend COVID-19 immunizati­on for students and staff to keep everyone safer in the classroom,” the department said in a statement. “Any changes to required K-12 immunizati­ons are properly addressed through the legislativ­e process.”

The announceme­nt was welcome news for Jonathan Zachreson, a father of three who lives in Roseville. Zachreson founded the group Reopen California Schools to oppose many of the state’s coronaviru­s policies. His activism led to him being elected to the Roseville City School District board in November.

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