Californians split on requiring COVID vaccine in schools, new poll finds

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Los Angeles Unified School District students attend online classes at the Boys & Girls Club of Hollywood on Aug. 26, 2020. (Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)

Los Angeles Unified School District students attend online classes at the Boys & Girls Club of Hollywood on Aug. 26, 2020. (Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)

Californians were split when it came to deciding if the COVID-19 vaccine should be mandatory for students and teachers in public schools, a new poll shows.

The Inside California Politics / Emerson College statewide poll of more than 1,000 registered voters, which has a margin of error of +/-2.9%, found 52% of Californians support a vaccine mandate for middle school and high school students age 12 and older, as cases have nearly tripled in the U.S. over two weeks. But not far behind, 49% of respondents said it should not be mandatory.

Voters were also split on returning to a statewide indoor mask mandate: 49% said they would support the measure, while 39% would be opposed and 12% were unsure. 

When it came to large events like concerts and sports games, 49% of respondents said proof of vaccination should be required for entry, while 40% said vaccine records shouldn’t be checked to get into such events and 11% were unsure.

Also in the exclusive poll, 45% of respondents said vaccinated students and teachers should be required to wear masks in the classroom, while 40% said no, and 15% of respondents were unsure or had no opinion.

At this time, California is requiring masks in schools, but will ultimately leave decisions on how to handle enforcement up to the local school districts.

The University of California system is requiring COVID-19 vaccinations for everyone, but COVID-19 vaccine requirements are not uniform across the various colleges and universities in the state of California.

While all nine UC schools are mandating students and staff are vaccinated this fall, the 23 public universities and the 500,000 students that make up the California State University system are taking a different approach.

This comes as Gov. Gavin Newsom weighs the possibility of returning California’s statewide mask requirement.

A majority of voters — 61% — said they were very or somewhat concerned about the delta variant’s spread, while while 19% were not too concerned and 21% said they were not concerned at all. 

The Inside California Politics/Emerson College poll was conducted July 19-20, 2021. The sample consisted of California registered voters, n=1,085, with a Credibility Interval (CI) similar to a poll’s margin of error (MOE) of +/- 2.9 percentage points.

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