Ask SSC . . . Is the COVID-19 testing requirement for unvaccinated school employees still in place for the 2022-23 school year?
The short answer is yes.
On August 11, 2021, the California Department of Public Health issued a two-part Order that requires schools to verify the COVID-19 vaccination status of all workers and requires unvaccinated or incompletely vaccinated workers to undergo COVID-19 screening testing. The Order considers an individual fully vaccinated two weeks or more after receiving the second dose in a two-dose series, or two weeks or more after receiving a single dose vaccine. Booster shots are not required to be considered fully vaccinated. While issued almost a year ago, the Order has not expired, and as such, it remains in place until rescinded by the state or replaced by a subsequent Order.
As a reminder, the Order requires all public and private schools in the state to verify the vaccination status of their workers, and it includes a list of acceptable methods to prove vaccination status, such as a vaccination record card or a digital record that includes a QR code that displays specified information when scanned by a SMART Health Card reader. Self-attestation is not an acceptable method for verifying vaccination status.
Workers who are not fully vaccinated, or who are not able to provide the needed documentation, must undergo at least weekly screening testing for COVID-19. The state is now encouraging schools to rely on antigen tests for all COVID-19 testing, including at-home COVID-19 tests that are available over the counter. As part of the testing requirement, schools should have a plan for tracking test results and conducting workplace contact tracing, and results must be reported to local public health departments.
The Order applies to all paid and unpaid adults serving in private and public school settings that serve students in transitional kindergarten/kindergarten through grade 12. However, it does not apply to home schools, childcare, or higher education, and local governing boards may adopt more stringent requirements. Schools subject to the provisions of the Order should ensure that information regarding the vaccination status of newly hired employees is part of the new hire process. In addition, the continued operational impacts of COVID-19 tracking and documentation require consideration in terms of workload and the strain on staffing resources, specifically the human resources department.