Legal Update Memo No. 25-2021 – CDPH Orders School Employee Vaccination Verification (K-12)

Download pdf: 25-2021 CDPH Orders School Employee Vaccination Verification (JH) w attachment

On August 11, 2021, California Department of Public Health (“CDPH”) issued a State Public Health Officer Order (“Order”) for all public and private K-12 schools to verify whether their workers are vaccinated.[1] This Order applies to all public and private schools serving students in transitional kindergarten through grade 12, but does not apply to home schools, child care, or higher education. The Order goes into effect on August 12, and all schools must be in full compliance by October 15. Employees who are not fully vaccinated must be tested at least once a week.

The new requirements, for all K-12 Schools:

  • All K-12 schools must verify the vaccine status of all of its workers by October 15. Proof of vaccination can be from the person’s COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card, a photo of the Vaccination Record Card, health care provider documentation, or a SMART Health Card digital record. In the absence of knowledge to the contrary, a school may accept the documentation as valid.
  • Unvaccinated workers are required to undergo PCR or antigen testing at least once weekly. Free testing resources are available through the California Schools Testing Program.[2] Schools may also use ESSER funds, GEER funds, and In-Person Instruction Grant funds (AB 86).
  • Schools must have a plan for tracking 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.
  • Applies to “workers,” 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.[3]

This Order does not affect the August 2, 2021 CDPH Guidance requiring masking indoors for all students and adults sharing a space with students.[4]

The Order is supported by Governor Newsom, California Teachers Association (CTA), California School Employees Association (CSEA), Service Employees International Union (SEIU), California State PTA, California Federation of Teachers (CFT), Association of California School Administrators (ACSA), and California Charter Schools Association (CCSA).[5]

Attached is a sample Employee Vaccination Verification Form for districts to use.

Please contact our office with questions regarding this Legal Update or any other legal matter.


The information in this Legal Update is provided as a summary of law and is not intended as legal advice.  Application of the law may vary depending on the particular facts and circumstances at issue.  We, therefore, recommend that you consult legal counsel to advise you on how the law applies to your specific situation.

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[3] Based on the broad language of the Order (all public and private schools), a conservative approach is to consider all administrators, including the superintendent, and other “district office” staff to be “workers” subject to this mandate. The definition of “worker” does not appear to include elected officials, such as district/county board of education trustees and county superintendents. That said, these elected officials may choose to participate in their agencies’ immunization verification process.