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De Blasio: Vaccines required for public school extracurricular activities in the performing arts

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New York City public school students 12 and older need to be vaccinated against COVID-19 if they want to take part in extracurricular activities like chorus, dance, and band, Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Friday. 

¨We’re talking about performing arts, where folks are close together, close contact, lots of exhaling,” said de Blasio after announcing the new mandate on WNYC’s “The Brian Lehrer Show.” “I want young people to enjoy these activities but I want to do it safely.”

The move is the latest escalation in the mayor’s plan to keep the city´s 1.1 million public school students safe as they prepare to return to classrooms on Monday, Sept. 13. All Department of Education employees, including close to 80,000 teachers, must show proof of having received at least the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by Sept. 27 and on Wednesday, de Blasio issued a vaccine mandate for all staffers working at City-contracted 3k, pre-k, and after school programs. 

A full vaccine mandate for students does not appear to be on the table at the moment, although New York State Governor Kathy Hochul recently gave localities the OK to implement a vaccine mandate for vaccine-eligible children. 

“We want to make sure that every kid is in school, that’s out imperative and we want to make sure that every kid is vaccinated that can be,” de Blasio said during a Wednesday press conference. “We find the current approach is really working.”

So far, about 65% of New York City children between the ages of 12 and 17 are at least partially vaccinated. 

The rule follows in the spirit of de Blasio’s COVID-19 mandate for all public school students interested in “high-risk” sports like basketball, football or wrestling before the start of competitive play and follows guidelines issued from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Students 12 and up interested in taking part in musical theater, orchestra, cheerleading, step, and flag teams must also get inoculated by the virus and show proof of having gotten at least the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine by Sept. 27. 

The Food and Drug Administration recently granted full approval for the Pfizer vaccine on people 16 years of age and older and previously granted an emergency use authorization on the vaccine for anyone 12 and up. 

Students, along with teachers and other school staff subject to vaccine mandates, can upload their proof of vaccination via the Department of Education´s vaccine portal. Some approved proof of vaccination includes a copy of a vaccination card, New York State Excelsior Pass, or other government records. 

A DOE spokesperson clarified that if the activity is taking place outdoors students will not need to wear masks. 

 “This fall, we are welcoming back students to all of the activities this pandemic took from them, and lifesaving vaccines make this possible,” said Schools Chancellor Meisha Ross Porter. “Next week, students can get vaccinated at their school and receive the key to returning to the activities they love.” 

Students can get the vaccine while at school. In order to help boost vaccination rates among kids, the City plans to set up temporary vaccination sites at 700 school sites across the city — enough to serve all 12 to 17-year-old students — starting the first week of classes. Students will be able to get their second dose of the vaccine at a school pop-up site the week of Oct. 4. 

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