The largest school district – New York City – is taking a stand to help protect kids and teachers as the school year starts. NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to issue a mandate for every employee of the Department of Education to receive at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine by September 27.
According to The New York Times, NYC’s department of education have enacted strict vaccination mandates for teachers, principals, custodians, education assistants, and central office staff, requiring vaccination or weekly testing as a condition of employment. Now, de Blasio seems to be taking a harder line approach, getting rid of weekly testing and instead requiring staff to be vaccinated. It’s another mark in Mayor Bill de Blasio’s effort to slow down the spread of the coronavirus, specifically the Delta variant, which is running rampant.
It’s also a massive step forward for the whole country. Just a week ago, Washington State’s Governor Jay Inslee announced that they’d also fully mandate vaccines for educators and school staff regardless of whether or not the staff worked in private or public schools. These mandates will likely become more common after the Pfizer vaccine was fully authorized by the FDA on Monday, August 23rd — so while NYC and Washington State may be the first, they almost certainly won’t be the last district to mandate vaccinations.
Jessica Gould, a reporter for WNYC, shared the breaking news on Twitter stating that the mandated vaccines will apply to 143,000 employees. “City tallies at least 63 percent have had at least one dose,” she explains, “but that only counts those who were vaccinated in the city. The percentage is likely higher.”
Breaking: NYC Mayor to announce vaccine mandate for all school staff, without testing alternative. All education dept staff must provide proof of first dose by 9/27. In doing so, NYC joins strictest vaccine mandates for school staff in country.
— Jessica Gould (@ByJessicaGould) August 23, 2021
While this is the first K-12 school district to mandate vaccines, several colleges have put similar mandates in place. What makes the NYC school district stands out is the “no exceptions” clause. Meaning, those who don’t want to get vaccinated can’t skirt the rules by getting regular testing, which is the case for most New York City workers.
However, there may still be a need for provisions for those legitimately medically exempt from receiving the coronavirus vaccines. “While the city is asserting its legal authority to establish this mandate, there are many implementation details, incl provisions for medical exceptions, that by law must be negotiated with the UFT and other unions, and if necessary, resolved by arbitration,” Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers said, according to Gould.
Parents and educators are bracing themselves with school already starting in some states and the others to follow soon. But this new mandate is likely to put some worried parents at ease, especially parents who have kids returning to school who are still too young to get vaccinated.