NYC to Require Private and Religious School Employees to Get COVID Vaccines
New York City is extending a COVID-19 vaccine mandate to teachers and staff in private and religious schools, a plan that would affect approximately 56,000 employees in 938 New York City schools. This decision creates a potential clash with some religious leaders who opposed the mandates of their communities.
Currently, all employees in public schools, daycares and early intervention centers must be immunized under previous health ordinances. To date, over 95% of Ministry of Education employees have received at least one injection. The new directive requires all non-public school staff to provide proof of a first dose of vaccine by December 20.
“We are doing everything in our power to protect our students and school staff, and a mandate for non-public school employees will help keep our school communities and younger New Yorkers safe,” said the Mayor Bill de Blasio in a statement.
His decision comes the same day authorities learned that a Minnesota man who attended a big event last month in New York City tested positive for the newly identified omicron variant, the second confirmed case in the United States. City health commissioner Dr Dave Chokshi said people should assume there is already an ongoing community spread of omicron in all five boroughs.
News of the school’s tenure immediately met with opposition from Rabbi David Zwiebel, chairman of the New York Independent and Religious School Leaders Committee. In a letter to the mayor tweeted by a New York Times reporter, Zwiebel said, “This is an area where the government should use its bully chair to persuade, not its regulatory arm to coerce.”
About 77% of New Yorkers have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, but rates in neighborhoods where Orthodox residents live are lagging. In Borough Park, home to a large Orthodox community, only 51% of residents have received at least one dose. In South Williamsburg, another Orthodox enclave, the dose rate is almost 60%.
De Blasio has repeatedly said he will consider expanding vaccination mandates, which already apply to all workers in the city as well as to employees of restaurants, gyms and cultural venues – and their customers. aged 12 and over. The mayor’s office plans to work with school leaders to provide vaccines to all schools that request them. Vaccinations will also be offered to students.
New York Assembly member Richard Gottfried, who chairs the health committee and represents parts of Manhattan, has expressed support for the mayor’s latest decision.
“Vaccination mandates have led to higher vaccination rates. As winter approaches, it is essential that everyone, especially those working in public places like our schools, are fully vaccinated,” a- he declared. “I support the mayor’s decision to extend vaccination mandates to non-public schools.”
Earlier this week, a federal appeals court ruled that some education staff can reapply for previously denied religious exemptions.