All employees of the City of New York, including public school teachers, will be required to be vaccinated, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Monday morning. The shots for a first dose will have to be administered by the end of September, and there will be no "opt-out" option.
"We want our schools to be extraordinarily safe all year long," de Blasio said. "Today, the New York City Department of Health will be issuing an order requiring all staff in the New York City public schools to be vaccinated. This will require that all staff of every kind, principals, teachers, custodians, food service, you name it, needs to have at least one dose by September 27 ... And we know this is going to help ensure that everyone is safe."
It was only in July that de Blasio said that employees of the City would have to follow specific Covid mitigation requirements, but that has changed per this new directive, according to Staten Island Live. Previously, if an employee was willing to undergo weekly Covid testing, they could opt out of the vaccine. That is no longer an option.
Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter said "Our schools must be safe spaces for all children, and by mandating a first dose by Sept. 27, the first month of school, we are adding yet another layer of protection for our kids."
"No matter who it is in a school," Porter said, "your child's teacher who they work closely with every day, your child's principal who leads the whole school community, your child's school food workers who keep everyone healthy and fed, your child's school safety agents who keep their entire building safe — everyone in our buildings will have their first dose completed in September."
Schools are set to open September 13, and de Blasio has promised that full-time, in-person instruction would be available for all students. In May, the mayor said no remote learning options would be available. Masking and social distancing has already been made a requirement, though the principals union in New York has said this could post a problem to getting all kids back into the classroom.
The New York State teachers union has opposed vaccine mandates. "We have advocated since the beginning of the year that any educator who wants a vaccine should have easy access to one. We would support local efforts to encourage more vaccinations, such as through programs that require that those who are not vaccinated get tested on a regular basis. But it's critical that districts come up with plans to make testing available on-site and at no cost. What we have not supported is a vaccine mandate," they said earlier this month.
De Blasio was the first US mayor to implement vaccine mandates via a required vaccine passport, though he was quickly followed by New Orleans and San Francisco. The vaccine passports, called the "Key to NYC," allow passport holders to engage in public life, such as attending entertainment and sporting events, or even just dining out or going to the gym. Photo ID must be presented along with the pass.
President Biden has implemented a mandate for all civilian employees of the federal government, and has encouraged businesses to require vaccines for their employees as well. Biden backed de Blasio's vaccine passport plan.