Mayor Bill de Blasio will require New York City public school teachers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by the start of the school year or undergo weekly testing as part of larger vaccine mandate for all City workers.
The mandate, which will begin for some municipal workers on Aug. 2, comes as the City works to fight back a spike in COVID cases across the five boroughs caused as a result of the highly-contagious Delta variant.
“September is when the rubber hits the road and this is when we have to make the difference,” said Mayor de Blasio early Monday morning. “This is going to be a fight to keep the vaccinations moving more than the variant.”
New York City is one of the few school districts in the country planning on a full reopening this fall with officials preparing to have all student return to classrooms for live in-person instruction.
But parents have grown increasingly worried about sending their children back into classroom given the rising number of new COVID cases stemming from the Delta variant and calls for a remote option this fall are growing louder.
Teachers have also expressed concern over returning to school building for in-person instruction. Out of all of the city’s public school teachers, only 60% have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine while 70% of all New York City adults have gotten at least one shot. Meanwhile, just over 226,000—or about 44%—vaccine eligible children in the city have gotten at least one dose of the vaccine. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is the only vaccination approved for children and only kids 12 an older are eligible for the shot.
Last week, the City launched a new effort to encourage more young people across the five boroughs to get vaccinated by offering Pfiver COVID-19 vaccinations at the Department of Education’s free summer school program, Summer Rising. Officials have begun setting up a handful of pop-vaccination sites outside of Summer Rising locations and will continue to do so at 25 sites until Aug. 9.
“Vaccination and testing have helped keep schools among the safest places in the city. This approach puts the emphasis on vaccination but still allows for personal choice and provides additional safeguards through regular testing,” a spokesperson for the United Federation of Teachers, New York City’s teacher union, “There are still many things to do before we are prepared to safely open our schools in September.”
This is a breaking story. Check back later for updates on the vaccine and testing mandate for teachers.