California’s mandate of COVID vaccination for both students and staff, imposes a responsibility on your district to verify compliance with the requirement. Anyone working on your campus must provide their COVID vaccination status following the California Department of Public Health order issued August 11, 2021:
- All K-12 schools must verify the vaccine status of all of its workers. Proof of vaccination from the person’s COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card (issued by the CDC or WHO), a photo of the Vaccination Record Card, health care provider documentation, or a SMART Health Card digital record with a scannable QR code.
- Documentation of vaccination from other contracted employers who follow these vaccination records guidelines and standards.
- Unvaccinated workers must have PCR or antigen testing at least once a week. Free testing resources are available through the California Schools Testing Program. Schools may also use ESSER funds, GEER funds, and In-Person Instruction Grant funds (AB 86).
- Schools must maintain tracking of worker vaccination status. Records of the verification must be made available upon request to the local health jurisdiction. Schools must also have a plan for tracking test results and conducting contact tracing.
- Workers who are not fully vaccinated (only received 1 of 2 doses) or who do not provide vaccination records, are considered unvaccinated.
Under the public health order, “workers” are defined as all paid and unpaid adults serving in the school setting, including certificated, classified staff, private school teachers/staff, and volunteers who are on campus.
"All K-12 schools must verify the vaccination status of on-campus workers."
The state could withhold funding from districts that do not comply with these verification requirements. In addition, some insurers – including joint powers authorities – rescinded liability coverage for districts that passed resolutions not to comply with COVID vaccine mandates.
Noncompliance with the vaccine verification mandate could also impact workers’ compensation coverage if an employee contracts the illness occupationally. COVID-related actions such as wrongful termination, discrimination, or inadequate training might not be covered if a district didn’t follow the guidance.
Board members can also be exposed to lawsuits, potential prosecution, and fines. Liability coverage for board members and management could be excluded if due to willful noncompliance with the public health order.
As with any regulatory requirement, districts need to understand their obligations to comply and maintain records of their compliance. Documentation will demonstrate to oversight agencies of a good faith effort and help provide positive defense of related claims.