What to Know
- All non-public school employees must provide proof of first dose of a COVID-19 vaccination by Dec. 20 as part of the city's latest health mandate.
- Mayor Bill de Blasio and Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi made the announcement Thursday.
- The mandate will apply to about 56,000 employees at 938 schools across New York City.
All non-public school employees must provide proof of first dose of a COVID-19 vaccination by Dec. 20 as part of the city's latest health mandate.
Mayor Bill de Blasio and Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi made the announcement Thursday.
“Vaccinations are the key to our recovery, and our public schools are among the safest places to be in the city. Childcare centers will now be just as safe, and it’s time to use the tools we have at our disposal to climb the ladder even further," Mayor Bill de Blasio. “We’re doing everything in our power to protect our students and school staff, and a mandate for nonpublic school employees will help keep our school communities and youngest New Yorkers safe.”
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The mandate will apply to roughly 56,000 employees at 938 schools across New York City.
The city said the new mandate is in alignment with recommendations from the CDC, which has recommended that school teachers and staff be vaccinated as soon as possible.
“The health and safety of our children is paramount and we are extending our vaccine mandate to ensure all schools are protected from COVID-19,” Health Commissioner Dr. Dave A. Chokshi said. “All teachers and school staff should get vaccinated as soon as possible. The COVID-19 vaccines are safe, effective and save lives.”
New York City public school teachers and other school staff members are already required to be at least partially vaccinated against COVID-19 as of October, when the controversial mandate for the largest public school district in the country went into effect.
Additionally, the city said it will offer vaccines to any schools -- public or not -- that request it, and vaccinations will be offered to interested eligible students as well as staff at the school. New York City public schools have already held a series of in-school vaccination drives last month, creating pop-ups in more than 1,000 buildings that serve students aged 5 to 11 as part of an effort to dose the newly eligible with Pfizer’s shot.
In a statement, Dr. Thomas Chadzutko, Superintendent of Schools for the Diocese of Brooklyn, said that although they have "placed great emphasis on getting the COVID-19 vaccine," they maintain respect for individual decisions.
“The Catholic schools and academies throughout Brooklyn and Queens today join as part of a coalition of religious and independent schools throughout New York City asking the Mayor and Health Commissioner to reconsider plans to implement a vaccine mandate," Chadzutko said. "We have consistently placed great emphasis on getting the COVID-19 vaccine, all while maintaining respect for an individual to make their own decision. However, we have and continue to remain opposed to any such mandate. Our teachers and staff, of whom 88% are vaccinated, have shown true leadership in the battle against COVID-19."
The latest mandate came the same day the state reported 11,300 new positive cases of COVID-19, the highest single-day total since late January, along with new months-long highs in daily deaths and hospitalizations.
New York has now confirmed five omicron variant cases, including in New York City -- just mere hours after the U.S. confirmed that its second overall omicron variant case in a Minnesota resident who recently traveled to New York City for a two-day convention at the Javits Center in Manhattan.
The Minnesota case is an adult male who lives in Hennepin County and had been vaccinated, officials said. He attended the Anime NYC 2021 convention at the Javits Center from Nov. 19-21. It's not clear what else he may have done in New York City during his visit, but he developed mild symptoms on Nov. 22 and was tested for COVID two days later, officials said. His symptoms have since resolved.
Gov. Kathy Hochul and other officials, as well as public health leaders, had said it would only be a matter of time before omicron was detected locally -- and that window appears to be shortening rapidly. New York state sequences only about 3.5% of positive COVID samples for variant isolation, similar to other states -- but it means that variants like omicron can circulate widely undetected for some time.
The fact that more cases are being identified with no travel link to South Africa underscores the increased likelihood community transmission has already begun.
Hochul said Thursday the Javits Anime convention organizers have a complete list of those who attended the two-day event and she expects contact tracing to move along much faster than it would have a year or even six months ago. She also said she and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio would hold a joint press briefing soon, though didn't say exactly when, to outline next steps once they learn more details.