Berkeley set to put staff vaccine mandate on hold, rescind student vax-or-test rule

Ally Markovich

With statewide vaccine mandates no longer in sight, Berkeley Unified will likely walk back its own vaccine policies, postponing a vaccine mandate for district employees and rescinding a vaccine-or-test rule for students.

The two policy changes are expected to be approved at Wednesday’s school board meeting. The board reviewed the policies at a June 1 meeting and they have been added to the consent calendar, which means the board will most likely approve them without a vote. 

This fall, Gov. Gavin Newsom said California students would soon have to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to attend school. Many districts, including BUSD, designed policies in step with California’s. Now that talk of a vaccine mandate has stalled, BUSD joins several districts, including Oakland Unified, in walking back their policies.

BUSD’s vaccine-or-test policy took effect in January, requiring students to get vaccinated or tested weekly for the coronavirus. The policy was designed as an “on-ramp” for the California student vaccine mandate, which was scheduled to take effect in January or July, pending full vaccine approval by the FDA.

In April, the California Department of Public Health announced that a vaccine mandate would take effect “no sooner” than July 1, 2023. On the same day, a state senator dropped a bill requiring students to be vaccinated and eliminating a personal belief exemption in the process.

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