What is the vaccine mandate for schools in New York?
Officials have declared that all public school teachers and staff will have to be vaccinated against covid-19, like other employees in New York City.
About 148,000 school employees, and contractors who work in schools, will have to get at least a first dose by September 27, according to an announcement from the Democratic mayor and the city health and education departments. Originally, teachers were under the umbrella category of federal workers. There was an option to not be vaccinated and be tested weekly under that plan, but that has been scrapped. It marks the first sector specific vaccine mandate in the state.
"We want our schools to be extraordinarily safe," Mayor Bill de Blasio said.
There is no other option, and currently no exemptions, for those who do not have the vaccine. Currently, these rules only apply to New York City, rather than across the whole state.
The city hasn't immediately said what the penalty will be for refusing, or whether there will be exemptions. At least 63% of all school employees already have been vaccinated. That figure doesn't include those who may have gotten their shots outside the city.
The new regulations come as the FDA has fully approved the first covid-19 jab, from the pharmaceutical company. The hope is that the approval will convince some of those who are hesitant about the vaccine to get their shot. The Moderna vaccine is expected to be fully approved by the fall.
What other vaccine mandates does New York have?
The city employs more than 300,000 people that the mandate on federal workers apply to. Mayor de Blasio said the deadline for the mandate is September 13 or employees will need to be tested weekly. Currently, the city has 57.8% of people vaccinated.
However, there has been a reaction amongst workers' unions against the mandates. “New York City is a union town and that cannot be ignored,” said Henry Garrido, the executive director of District Council 37, which has 150,000 members, the largest union representing city employees.
New York City workers who do not comply with the new rules will not be allowed to go to work and will be docked pay. “This means everybody,” de Blasio said, “If someone is not wearing their mask, they will be removed from the workplace.”
These mandates are a reaction against the renewed spread of the covid-19 Delta variant. Officials hope the new restrictions will push cases down before a predicted winter spike. Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci, said the "return to normal" should be expected by Summer 2020, if people are vaccinated and follow the rules.