In October, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that California would become the first state to require all schoolchildren to receive the coronavirus vaccine.
That turned out to be easier said than done.
Newsom’s mandate hinged on the federal Food and Drug Administration’s granting full approval to the vaccines for all school-age children, which has yet to happen. So California officials announced late last week that they were pushing implementation of the new rule from this summer to July 2023 at the earliest.
The announcement has already sewn doubts about whether local school districts can enforce their own vaccine mandates without the state. The status of Los Angeles Unified’s requirement is now in question, as is Oakland Unified’s. San Diego Unified officials say they will still enact theirs starting in the fall.
State officials say they made the decision because the F.D.A. has so far granted full approval for Covid vaccines only for people older than 15, and because school administrators were worried they didn’t have enough time to implement the mandate.
But the delay also comes as support for new vaccination requirements and other coronavirus precautions appears to be waning in California, as we settle into this latest phase of the pandemic.
Last week, California leaders said they had no plans to toughen mask or testing rules despite a recent rise in Covid-19 cases. A state senator pulled his bill that would have prevented parents from opting out of childhood Covid vaccines for anything other than medical reasons. And last month, a vaccine mandate for all public and private sector employees was also shelved by its legislative sponsor.
“There’s a sort of Covid mitigation fatigue,” Kevin Gordon, a longtime lobbyist for California school districts, told The Times. “People are just sort of done with it now.”
Indeed, in California, officials have already transitioned from treating the coronavirus as an emergency to a manageable risk, which is essentially a more hands-off approach.
This aligns with a nationwide trend that my colleague Benjamin Mueller called the “the choose-your-own-adventure period of the pandemic.” In his article published on today’s front page, Benjamin writes that Americans are increasingly being forced to make their own, very complicated risk calculations when it comes to Covid, as communitywide pandemic guidance fades away.
In California, officials maintain that they are not backing down from the K-12 vaccine mandate, and that planning to roll it out for the 2023-24 school year will give them time to work out the kinks.
Whenever it is implemented, a childhood vaccination mandate will undoubtedly help close a yawning gap in immunization rates in the state.
Currently, 80 percent of adults in California are fully vaccinated (not including a booster) against the coronavirus. Among children ages 5 to 11, just 35 percent are.
Where we’re traveling
Today’s tip comes from Lauren Chu, who lives in San Mateo:
“Monterey truly has it all. My family spent Thanksgiving one year hiking in nearby Pinnacles National Park, admiring the silence and beauty that rests in its ridges and valleys. Afterwards, we drove back to Monterey and strolled down Cannery Row, window shopping while smelling the freshly baked cinnamon rolls wafting from just down the street. In Monterey, families can visit the beach or the famous Monterey Bay Aquarium — both great options. But for my family, our top choice is always visiting the Sardine Factory, our family’s favorite restaurant of all time. Eating their bruschetta, steak, and salmon while sitting beneath their atrium has to be one of my favorite memories. But just as enjoyable is sitting out on the balcony of our hotel in silence, listening and watching the ocean at night.
But even if we don’t spend the night there and are simply passing through on a trip back from L.A., we always make sure to stop at the Old Fisherman’s Wharf to pick up some piping hot, delicious clam chowder.”
Tell us about your favorite places to visit in California. Email your suggestions to CAtoday@nytimes.com. We’ll be sharing more in upcoming editions of the newsletter.
If you’d like to submit a love letter to your California city, neighborhood or region — or to the Golden State as a whole — please email us at CAtoday@nytimes.com. We’ll keep sharing your missives in the newsletter.
And before you go, some good news
Next time you visit downtown Los Angeles, stop by the nation’s first museum dedicated to Mexican food.
“It’s more than tacos,” Ximena Martin, one of the curators, told the news outlet. Each region of Mexico “needs to be celebrated and acknowledged.”
Thanks for starting your week with me. I’ll be back tomorrow. — Soumya
P.S. Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Like 2021 and 2023, but not 2022 (3 letters).