State lawmakers are soon going to consider a bill that looks to mandate a the Covid-19 vaccine for K-12 students as well as aiming to remove the "personal belief" exemption from the list of approved exemptions. State Senator and Pediatrician Richard Pan of Sacramento proposed the "Keep Schools Open and Safe" Act Monday morning in an effort to prevent more learning loss in students and maintain a safe return to campus for all students and staff. Pan says that his bill is designed so schools can stay open and students, faculty, and staff can be safe from a viral outbreak.
Pan said this in a statement: "The most effective way to keep schools open and safe is to ensure the COVID vaccination rate of students and school staff is as high as possible in addition to masks, testing, and good ventilation to minimize infections. My legislation will give parents great certainty that their child is unlikely to get seriously sick and their school will stay open during COVID."
While the idea of mandatory vaccinations for school aged children is nothing new, this bill is looking to solidify the announcement from Governor Gavin Newsom back in October of 2021. Newsom said he would require the Covid-19 vaccination for students once the FDA granted full approval, which could take effect as soon as this fall. The "Keep Schools Open and Safe" Act builds on SB 277, which was also sponsored by Sen. Pan and eliminated the "personal belief" exemption loophole for all other childhood vaccinations required for public and private school students when it became law back in 2015.
Republican Assemblyman James Gallagher took to Twitter to denounce the ideas presented in the bill, calling the ideas this bill an "unconscionable overreach into the family". Gallagher is one of the California lawmakers openly opposed to any vaccine mandates. Gallagher told KFBK on Monday he promises to do everything he can to stop this bill. If passed, the bill would go into effect January 1st, 2023.