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photo credit: PIxabay

For many school districts throughout the county, today is the first day of full-time, in-person instruction since March 2020. And before Governor Gavin Newsom's announcement this week about the vaccine requirement and weekly testing for those not vaccinated, each of the 40 districts throughout the county was responsible for making those decisions.

"With this mandate, it really simplifies the process of adding in another layer of protection for our students and staff," said Jamie Hansen, Director of Communications for Sonoma County Office of Education.

Kathryn Howell is the President of the Santa Rosa Teachers Association, one of the largest in Northern California with over 800 members. Howell says this mandate is generally a relief for local school administrations.

"The burden of making these choices and decisions at the district level is really overwhelming to administration and to teacher unions and everybody involved and so to get this policy from the state level is really very much a relief," Howell said.

Howell estimates that 90 percent of the association's members are vaccinated.

"Those that have chosen not to be vaccinated are prepared for the testing, I don't think it's going to force anyone out of their jobs," Howell said.

And now the school year beings with some of the same protocols from last year like masking and hand sanitizing but without the social distancing, teachers are back in the classroom full time.

"Making sure all those layers of safety are in place and making sure all the kids are comfortable in the space and getting used to being back in school," Howell said.

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