On August 11, 2021, the Governor issued a vaccine mandate for students and staff that will become effective once the COVID-19 vaccine receives final approval from the FDA for ages 12 and up. The order could take effect July 1, 2022. The Governor has directed adults be held to at least the same standards as students for the COVID-19 vaccine.

Currently, California requires all K-12 staff to verify their vaccination status or be tested weekly, but when the vaccine requirement takes effect for students, all staff will be required to be vaccinated without the option of testing.It is doubtful that a school district will be required to pay for testing and testing time

Individual districts can choose to require vaccination for their staff, ahead of the schedule set by the state and several districts have already done so. Districts must bargain the effects of the implementation of the mandate if CSEA demands it.

Governor Gavin Newsom has directed the California Department of Public Health to add the COVID-19 vaccine to other vaccinations required for in-person school attendance—such as measles, mumps, and rubella pursuant to the Health and Safety Code sections 120325 - 120380. Once the FDA fully approves a vaccine for ages 12 and up pupils in grades will have to be vaccinated starting the commencement of the next semester, July 1, 2022. A requirement for K-6 students will follow later upon FDA approval.

COVID-19 vaccine requirements will apply to all “pupil[s] of any private or public elementary or secondary school[s].” (HSC section 120335(b)). COVID-19 vaccine requirements will be phased-in by grade span, grades K-6 and 7-12 to help with a smooth implementation. This mandate will be a condition of in-person attendance. (HSC section 120335(f)). A student who is not vaccinated may remain enrolled in independent study but may not attend in-person instruction. Requirements established by regulation, not legislation, must be subject to exemptions “for both medical reasons and personal beliefs.” (HSC section 120338). According to the Governor’s Office, the mandate will take effect for the semester after the FDA grants full approval to a vaccine for a given age group.

Community colleges are not covered by the K-12 orders discussed above. Each college currently can decide its own policy about vaccination and/or testing requirements for staff. Many community colleges have already begun requiring vaccines after receiving legal guidance on a vaccine mandate.

The federal government recently started requiring vaccination for employees of federal contractors. Some CSEA employers are probably covered by this requirement. Separately, there is a requirement for all Head Start staff to be vaccinated by January 2022. In addition, the federal OSHA is finishing up an emergency regulation that will require employers with 100 or more employees to require vaccination or weekly testing. Once OSHA adopts this regulation, Cal/OSHA will have to adopt a similar regulation within 30 days, and that will apply to CSEA employers.

If you are a K-12 employee, you are currently at minimum required to follow the August 11, 2021 CDPH order requiring vaccination or weekly testing. However, many school districts have begun implementing stricter vaccine mandates. If your district has adopted a stricter mandate, or if you are a Head Start employee or your employer is a federal contractor.

If you are a community college employee, your employer’s mandate will apply if it has adopted one. If it is a federal contractor, that mandate would apply. And it is likely that all community colleges will soon come under the OSHA vaccinate-or-test mandate once that is adopted, likely before the end of 2021.

Under the August 11, 2021 public health order (which you can read here), all K-12 school employees in California (including in private schools) must either provide proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 or undergo weekly surveillance testing (PCR or antigen). The order is effective as of August 12, and school employers must fully comply by October 15. The order is part of a broad trend among employers to require COVID-19 vaccination or to require either vaccination or testing, as part of measures to control the highly infectious Delta variant that is causing a huge increase in cases among unvaccinated individuals. The August 11 order does not apply to community colleges.

Yes. The Order applies to all school workers, without any explicit limitation based on assigned job sites. The Order defines "worker" as referring to all paid and unpaid adults serving in the following facilities: public and private schools serving students in transitional kindergarten through grade 12, except that it does not apply to home schools. Further, it does not apply to childcare or to higher education. Covered workers include, but are not limited to, certificated and classified staff, and volunteers who are on-site at a school campus supporting school functions.

It is not. Because school employers are legally allowed to require vaccination (absent disability or religious exemption), for the same reasons it is legal for them to ask as well. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) does not apply to the conduct of an employer or union, but rather regulates only health care plans and providers. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has held that such an inquiry does not violate anti-disability laws: see the EEOC FAQ #K3. 

A major worry with the coronavirus is that people can be infected and can spread the virus to others without exhibiting symptoms themselves. Testing leads to quick identification of cases, quick treatment for those people, and immediate isolation to prevent spread. Early testing also helps to identify anyone who came into contact with infected people so they too can be quickly treated. K-12 school employers must test employees weekly unless they have provided proof of full vaccination.

Yes. Currently, the California Department of Public Health has ordered that all K-12 school employees must either provide proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 or get tested weekly for COVID-19 using a PCR (molecular) or antigen test. Testing leads to quick identification of cases, quick treatment for those people, and immediate isolation to prevent spread. Early testing also helps to identify anyone who came into contact with infected people so they too can be quickly treated. Currently, K-12 school employers must test employees weekly unless they have provided proof of full vaccination.

There is no DPH order for community colleges, but many colleges are choosing to implement a similar requirement.

The state K-12 vaccinate-or-test mandate is non-negotiable, although we can bargain about the effects. If a district or community college decides to impose a flat vaccine mandate with no testing opt-out, it probably does not have to bargain about the decision, only about the impacts and effects. A recent PERB case found that an employer did not have to bargain the decision to require a vaccine during a pandemic, but it did have to bargain the effects upon request. (Regents of the University of California, July 26, 2021, PERB Dec. No. 2783H.)

CSEA’s Legal Department has determined that employers can legally mandate vaccination as long as they comply with anti-discrimination laws (in particular regarding disabilities and sincere religious objections). Court cases around the country have confirmed this analysis, as courts have repeatedly upheld various kinds of vaccine and vaccine-or-test mandates imposed by public and private employers. A lawsuit against the California vaccine mandates would not be successful.

If your chapter chooses to demand bargaining about the effects of a vaccine mandate, then in coordination with the Labor Relations Representatives, chapters should be working to reach an agreement as soon as possible. CSEA will be clear with districts regarding our rights to negotiate under the law.  Your Labor Relations Representative will schedule with your districts immediately to ensure the chapter reaches a fair agreement.

The FDA has approved COVID-19 booster shots. The California Department of Public Health website says booster eligibility is now open to anyone 18 and older, six months after full vaccination with the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or two months after the J&J vaccine.

For some individuals who have received the first two doses, a booster shot is recommended after six months because the effectiveness of the initial vaccines may decrease over time and the immune system may be less able to defend against new variants, such as Delta. Medical experts say that even without a booster shot, current vaccinations remain highly effective at preventing severe disease or death from COVID-19 even after the passage of time for most people. If you want to know if you should consider a booster shot, talk with your doctor.

Note that there are no legal requirements at the present time for anyone to get a booster shot. The only requirements are about the initial vaccination (one or two shots, depending on which vaccine).

Return to School

Earlier in the pandemic, before the availability of vaccines, the state Department of Public Health set certain numerical thresholds of COVID-19 cases that would trigger a school closure. Those orders no longer apply. However, districts or county health officers might decide to close a school temporarily if a significant outbreak occurs. Under most circumstances, safety precautions, including cleaning, masking, ventilation, and vaccination/testing protocols can keep a workplace safe even if there is some level of virus transmission. If you are concerned about a spike in cases at your workplace, contact your LRR. CSEA has the right to address site-specific safety concerns with districts, and in some cases, it might be necessary to get enforcement help from Cal/OSHA or a county public health officer.

K-12 students are required to mask indoors, with exemptions per CDPH face mask guidance. Adults in K-12 school settings are required to mask when sharing indoor spaces with students. Masks are optional outdoors for everyone in K-12 school settings.

Consistent with guidance from the 2020-21 school year, schools must develop and implement local protocols to enforce the mask requirements. Additionally, schools should offer alternative educational opportunities for students who are excluded from campus because they will not wear a face covering. Note: Public schools should be aware of the requirements in AB 130 to offer independent study programs for the 2021-22 school year.

Persons exempted from wearing a face covering due to a medical condition, must wear a non-restrictive alternative, such as a face shield with a drape on the bottom edge, as long as their condition permits it. In limited situations where a face covering cannot be used for pedagogical or developmental reasons, (e.g., communicating or assisting young children or those with special needs) a face shield with a drape (per CDPH guidelines) can be used instead of a face covering while in the classroom as long as the wearer maintains physical distance from others. Staff must return to wearing a face covering outside of the classroom.

Schools must develop and implement local protocols to provide a face covering to students who inadvertently fail to bring a face covering to school to prevent unnecessary exclusions. It is up to districts to enforce mask requirements. Districts should offer options for students who are excluded from school because they will not wear a mask.

We are in an unprecedented situation. The law requires certain functions still be performed. It’s important for chapters to try and negotiate over the impacts and effects for our members who are still assigned to come to work during this situation. 

School employees may be disciplined for being insubordinate if they refuse to do assigned work. However, court decisions have affirmed the rights of workers to refuse assignments in situations where they reasonably believe imminent danger exists. Make sure to inform your supervisor that you are willing to perform other duties.     

Be advised that if you decide to refuse an assignment, the appeal process is likely to take quite a while given the difficulty of every district and enforcement agency has in scheduling meetings at this time. 


If you believe that you are at an increased risk due to personal health problems, you should first discuss the matter with your supervisor. This may constitute a reasonable concern. But note that health conditions that place people at a high risk of complications from COVID-19 (for example, chronic lung disease, diabetes, or heart disease) do not prevent most people from getting the COVID-19 vaccine, and getting vaccinated is probably the best way for individuals with these conditions to protect themselves.


Please contact your Labor Relations Representative if you have any questions or concerns. 

Each chapter should negotiate the impacts of assignment changes. Work with your Labor Relations Representative. 

Contact your Labor Relations Representative or Chapter Leaders.  

Many CSEA members may be working from home and performing tasks that require an internet connection and/or mobile phone service. Education Code section 44032 (for public K-12 schools) and section 87032 (for community colleges) require the employer to reimburse employees for “actual and necessary” expenses incurred in the course of their employment. Check to see if your district or college has a reimbursement policy that provides details, or if your chapter has bargained an agreement detailing reimbursement. Contact your Labor Relations Representative if you believe you are entitled to reimbursement but aren’t able to get it. 

Health and Safety Issues

Each chapter has the right to demand to bargain for safety training and adequate supplies appropriate for the chapter.  

The Cal/OSHA website is a good resource for available trainings, safety rules and regulations, and hazardous materials. Cal/OSHA requires each employer to have a written COVID-19 Prevention Plan. Cal/OSHA’s Emergency Temporary Standards detail what the Prevention Plan must contain.  In addition, they require the employer to identify and evaluate any workplace-specific hazards.  The employer must allow employees and any “authorized employee representative” to participate in this evaluation process.  This means CSEA must have a seat at the table in developing and/or refining each Prevention Plan.


LRRs and members should refer to the emergency standards themselves for precise details about what each Prevention Plan must contain. In addition, the California Department of Public Health has issued school-specific safety guidance that employers must follow: for example, it requires all students and employees be masked except when alone in a private workspace. Please see the Cal/OSHA Emergency Regulation FAQ.

The best way to protect yourself and those around you is to get vaccinated against COVID-19.  The three available vaccines are between 77% and 94% effective against symptomatic COVID-19 disease (depending on the vaccine) and are even more effective in preventing serious coronavirus illness.  The vaccines are widely available and are free to individuals whether or not you have health insurance.  The vaccines have proven very safe, with at least 350 million doses already administered in the United States. You can take sick leave if you need time to get the shot or have to miss work because of mild side effects; in some districts, we have negotiated additional leave for this purpose.

When indoors, wear a mask—the best type available to you. Stay at least 6 feet away from other people if possible.  Wash your hands regularly.  Follow all the workplace safety guidelines from your employer and stay aware of guidance from state and federal agencies.


If you work in food service, a new state law and Executive Order from the Governor (51-20) guarantees you the right to take a break every 30 minutes to wash your hands.


In schools and other workplaces, the biggest COVID-19 transmission risks are unvaccinated individuals who do not socially distance and do not wear face coverings, as well as crowding or lack of outside air ventilation or high-quality air filtration.  Districts are required to have site-specific COVID Safety Plans to address these and other hazards.  If you see a health safety hazard at your worksite, report it immediately.  If your district is not adhering to this regulation, let your Labor Relations Representative or Chapter leaders know right away. Please refer to the California Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for more guidance and documentation on safety measures and/or concerns. 


Ask your Labor Relations Representative about COVID Know Your Rights trainings hosted by your field office.

If you think you have caught this virus, don’t be afraid to pay to be tested. The new federal CARES Act requires tests be provided free of charge.  You also need to report a positive Covid test or possible Covid symptoms to your supervisor and follow their directives about isolating from others. (Cal/OSHA provides “exclusion pay” if you have to stay home from work for these reasons, even if you’re out of sick leave.)


Additionally, CSEA fought hard for the passage of SB 1159, a law which creates a “rebuttable presumption” for school employees as it relates to contracting COVID-19 illness at work. SB 1159 creates a rebuttable presumption that applies to all employees, including school and community college employees, whose employers have five or more employees. This presumption goes into effect if there is a COVID-19 outbreak at the employee’s place of employment.


Your Labor Relations Representative will help determine if an outbreak has occurred as defined in the bill.


Even if there is no outbreak, you may still be legally entitled to workers compensation benefits if you contracted the illness at work. These benefits include medical care and disability payments.


If the District resists such a workers’ comp claim, contact your CSEA LRR who can refer you to attorneys who specialize in workers’ comp cases.

Paid Leave Time 

Yes. In February 2022 the Legislature enacted SB 114, which provides two supplemental paid leave banks to employees for certain COVID-related reasons. Full-time employees get 40 hours of paid leave for a variety of reasons (including getting vaccinated, seeking a COVID diagnosis, and caring for family members) and another 40 hours if they actually test positive for COVID or have a family member with a positive test. (Part-time employees receive less, depending on their usual work schedules.) SB 114 is retroactive to January 1, 2022 and runs to September 30, 2022. (SB 114 is very similar to last year’s SB 95.)

This supplemental leave is available to you in addition to your regular paid sick leave. If you took paid leave between January 1, 2022, and now, and it was for a qualifying SB 114 reason, your employer has to credit your other paid leave bank from your SB 114 leave if you make a request to them.

Talk to your LRR if you run into problems using SB 114 leave.

Yes. Recent Cal/OSHA regulation on COVID requires the employer pay for an employee to stay home if they have an exposure to a positive case within 6 feet of more than 15 minutes within 24 hours. (However, if you have sick leave available, the employer can require you to use your sick leave. Also, exclusion pay is not required for employees whose exposures were not caused by work.)

In addition, in February 2022 the Legislature enacted SB 114, which provides two supplemental paid leave banks to employees for certain COVID-related reasons. Full-time employees get 40 hours of paid leave for a variety of reasons (including getting vaccinated, seeking a COVID diagnosis, and caring for family members) and another 40 hours if they actually test positive for COVID. (Part-time employees receive less, depending on their usual work schedules.) SB 114 is retroactive to January 1, 2022 and runs to September 30, 2022. Note that if the Cal/OSHA exclusion pay applies, your employer can’t make you use your SB 114 leave.

This is not clear. First, under Educational Employment Relations Act (EERA) an employer must bargain with CSEA over such a new requirement before unilaterally imposing it. Second, the underlying requirement is subject to legal challenge under California Labor Code sections 96(k) and 98.6, which bar adverse actions against employees “for lawful conduct occurring during nonworking hours away from the employer’s premises.” However, courts have interpreted these statutes more narrowly as designed to protect political activities.  There is also a constitutional right to interstate travel, but it involves a balancing test weighing the interests of the employer against those of the employee.  Given the health threats from travel (airplane travel in particular), a legal challenge might not be successful, but districts would risk paying penalties and legal fees if they guess incorrectly that an unpaid travel quarantine is lawful. Contact your LRR immediately if you hear of your district trying to require an unpaid travel quarantine. 

Members who are feeling ill should have leaves available to them as a result of chapter COVID-19 effects negotiations, the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), recent Cal/OSHA regulations, and/or the California Education Code. If a member has been sent home by the District as a precautionary measure, CSEA believes the District should not deduct the member’s leaves and instead maintain regular pay for the employee while they regain health. Under current Cal/OSHA regulations, an employee who is not allowed to come to work because of a positive Covid test or possible Covid symptoms must have their pay and benefits maintained, but the employer can require the employee to use sick leave if they have it available. Your Labor Relations Representative can assist you.

Districts are required by state law to allow you to use your accrued sick leave to take care of family members who are ill under the Healthy Workplace Healthy Family Act of 2014 (AB 1522). There may be other leaves available to you at the chapter level due to agreements negotiated by your chapter. Your Labor Relations Representative can assist you.

Many districts adhere to the provisions in Labor Code section 230.8 providing up to 40 hours of unpaid leave for childcare problems. There may be other leaves available to you at the chapter level due to agreements negotiated by your chapter. Your Labor Relations Representative can assist you.

CSEA Meetings and Communication

CSEA’s Board of Directors voted to require members who attend events sponsored by the state Association in-person to be vaccinated. This meeting attendance requirement applies only to events at the level of Regional Presidents Meetings (RPMs) and above, such as CSEA Board of Directors meetings, Field Office trainings, and Super Session. CSEA’s Executive Director also has limited meetings at CSEA facilities to those who are vaccinated (absent a legal need for an unvaccinated person to attend).

This decision was made in consideration of the health and safety of our members, staff, and communities. As we return to in-person state Association meetings, we have a fiduciary responsibility to provide a safe and healthy environment for members and staff, and to minimize the spread of COVID-19 at CSEA facilities, meetings, trainings, and events. This policy will maximize in-person meeting attendance, protect CSEA members and staff, and protect the Association from liability.

In advance of an Association event which you plan to attend in-person, CSEA Member Benefits Department will give instructions for submitting your proof of vaccination. Member Benefits will create a confidential record under your name so you will not need to resubmit proof every time you wish to attend a CSEA event. If you do not submit a copy of your card in advance, you can also show proof of vaccination at the door: a photo of a vaccine card is sufficient (you do not need to bring the original). Remember that one is not “fully vaccinated” until two weeks after the final shot. This meeting attendance requirement does not apply to chapter or council meetings; however, chapters and councils must comply with CDPH requirements.

The Association’s vaccine requirement discussed above does not apply to chapter events held outside CSEA offices. Each chapter should make a decision and create a clear policy about in-person meetings.

Chapters should be aware of state and local orders about in-person activities. For example, many counties have indoor mask mandates.

In addition, CSEA and its chapters and councils lack the legal immunities which public agencies enjoy from being sued for negligence in allowing the spread of COVID. Therefore, CSEA strongly encourages chapters and councils to ensure that those attending are either vaccinated or recently tested with a reliable test. CSEA’s Legal Department cannot defend those chapters who get sued because they held an in-person meeting without requiring vaccination and this led to someone getting ill. Chapters and their leaders might be held personally liable in such a situation. Therefore, CSEA urges chapters to adopt sound policies to keep people safe at in-person meetings. And CSEA continues to urge chapters to allow virtual participation in meetings as many members will prefer to attend virtually due to health concerns.

All CSEA staff are fully vaccinated, including any newly hired staff. And as discussed in some of the FAQs above, there are more and more state and federal mandates about vaccination and/or testing. We want our members to be able to plan ahead for the CSEA events they want to attend weeks and months from now.

For additional information regarding return to in-person meetings requirements, or to review frequently asked questions, visit www.csea.com/event-faqs.

Probably not. CSEA is a private association and hence not covered by the same FEHA and ADA provisions requiring accommodation of disabilities and religion as employers are bound by, unless a member’s inability to attend could adversely impact this member’s employment status (such as a grievance meeting, in which case the Chapter must offer the alternative of a recent test or remote participation such as Zoom or phone). However, CSEA strongly recommends that in all situations, unvaccinated members be provided the opportunity to attend meetings by Zoom or phone.

CSEA encourages chapters to send regular updates to members to ensure they have the most up-to-date and accurate information. 

Stimulus and COVID Relief Funding

AB 86, signed into law by Governor Newsom on March 5, 2021, addressed school reopening in California and appropriated approximately $6.6 billion to schools in two pools ($2 billion and $4.6 billion) with different requirements and permissible uses.

AB 86 In-Person Instruction Program Funds ($2 billion)

No. These funds automatically go to districts to reopen according to benchmarks set in the bill.  If a school district does not re-open schools between April 1 and May 15, the district will lose a portion of its funding for every school day schools remain closed. School districts that do not reopen on or after May 15 will forfeit all those funds.

Funding may be used for a broad range of needs school districts have to re-open schools, including to support in-person instruction and school re-opening costs such as PPE and  classroom upgrades.
Expanded Learning Opportunities Grants (Approx. $4.6 billion)

These funds are allocated on the same basis as the LCFF, plus a $1,000 allocation per homeless student. This means districts will receive funding based on the number of students they have with additional funding for the number of low-income, English language learner, and foster students. Schools have until August 31, 2022 to spend these funds.

The purpose of these funds is for districts to offer in-person supplemental instruction and support to students. Up to 15% of a district’s allocation may be used to support supplemental services for students who are in a distance-learning model because many communities may not be ready to return to in person instruction in the near future, but the students still require instructional services.


Funds may be used for summer school, extended year, extended instructional days or minutes, tutoring, etc. For districts that do not access the In-Person Instruction Grant funds ($2 billion pool), up to 10% may be used for any purpose consistent with school re-opening, including providing in-person instruction for any student.

At least 10% of a district’s allocation must be spent on paraprofessionals to provide in-person instruction, which includes one-on-one tutoring to students, with a priority for serving special needs and English language learner pupils. 

Bill language prioritizesuse of funds for English learners and pupils who are individuals with exceptional needs. It does not require this.

The law does not support the claim about limiting the new paraprofessionals funds to “exceptional needs students and English learners.”  Rather, the bill says, “Supplemental instruction and support shall be prioritized for English learners and pupils who are individuals with exceptional needs,” but this language does not limit the expenditure to those two groups.  Generally, all $4.6 billion, of which the $460 million is a part, is intended to support students who can use the help.  The official language is quite broad: “pupils who are eligible for free or reduced-price meals, English learners, foster youth, homeless pupils, pupils who are individuals with exceptional needs, pupils at risk of abuse, neglect, or exploitation, disengaged pupils, and pupils who are below grade level, including, but not limited to, those who did not enroll in kindergarten in the 2020–21 school year, credit-deficient pupils, high school pupils at risk of not graduating, and other pupils identified by certificated staff.” (Ed Code 43522(a)(1).) 

CSEA advocates that this funding be used to hire/increase the hours of classifications that assist classroom teachers and other certificated personnel in the performance of their duties and in the supervision of pupils. § 45330 (a).

The bill requires the district, on or before June 1, 2021, to adopt a plan describing how the apportioned funds will be used in accordance with AB86, and they must provide an opportunity for parents and school site staff to be involved in the development of the plan.

Most of the funds provided by AB 86 are distributed according to the LCFF formula. (Ed Code section 43521(b)(3).) Since “community funded” districts are by definition districts that do not receive LCFF, these districts will not receive most AB 86 funding. However, AB 86 provides two apportionments outside of LCFF: $1,000 per homeless pupil, and state special schools receive $725 for each unit of ADA. (Ed Code section 43521(b)(1) and (2).) The first of these apportionments would appear to be available to community funded districts. This question may be answered officially when the state Department of Education publishes the estimated allocations, as it is required to do by law.

CalPERS Credit

Only if members are unpaid and if members work under 1,720 hours per fiscal year (10 months/ 8 hours per day). If reported as unpaid and under 1,720 you would lose service credit. That’s why CSEA is actively worked with districts to ensure our members remained in paid status during any school closure.


If you have any questions or concerns about your paid status, you should contact your Labor Relations Representative. 

Only if the leave is an unpaid leave.  If the leave is paid, the salary is reported as normal with no impact to service credit.

Paid administrative leave with the intent to return to work is reportable to CalPERS for service credit. If you have any concerns about how your leave is being reported, you should contact your Labor Relations Representative.