California will be the first state to issue a school vaccine mandate for the COVID-19 vaccine, but it certainly won't be the last. Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Friday that the mandate will go into effect for students in public and private schools—with no testing alternative option.

Under the mandate, the COVID-19 vaccine will be added to the list of other vaccinations required for students to attend school. Just like with other vaccinations, parents can claim religious and medical exemptions for the COVID-19 vaccine.


The new mandate will consist of two phases: One for children grades seven through 12, and another for kindergarten through sixth grade. Once the Food and Drug Administration grants approval for certain age groups, Gov. Newsom's mandate will take effect. Most likely, kids in grades seven through 12 will have to be vaccinated by July 2022. As there isn't yet an emergency use authorization for the COVID-19 vaccine for kids under 12 yet, the deadline for students in kindergarten through sixth grade has yet to be determined. Previously in California, the Los Angeles Unified School District became the first major school district in the U.S. to mandate vaccines for all students 12 and older. The district announced its new vaccine requirement last month—the deadline (for all students who are eligible to receive the vaccine) is Jan. 10 of next year. Unless students have a medical or other exemption, they will be required to get fully vaccinated. Proof of vaccination must be uploaded into the LAUSD's Daily Pass system, the district said. "Our goal is to keep kids and teachers as safe as possible, and in the classroom," Board Vice President Nick Melvoin said in a statement after the board of education approved the plan at a special meeting Thursday. "A medical and scientific consensus has emerged that the best way to protect everyone in our schools and communities is for all those who are eligible to get vaccinated. This policy is the best way to make that happen." Under the governor's new mandate, unvaccinated students will have the option of enrolling in a fully online school, attending independent-study programs offered by school districts or they can be homeschooled. "There's still a struggle to get to where we need to be," Newsom said regarding the pandemic. "And that means we need to do more, and we need to do better." A version of this story about the LAUSD vaccine mandate was originally published on September 10, 2021. It has been updated.