New York City will require all unvaccinated public school teachers and staff to be vaccinated, Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Monday.
The city’s roughly 148,000 public school teachers and staff have until Sept. 27, two weeks after the school year’s scheduled start, to get their first dose of a coronavirus vaccine, de Blasio said during a press conference. The requirement doesn’t allow staff to avoid vaccination by submitting results of a coronavirus test every week.
“We know that this is going to help ensure everyone is safe,” the mayor said.
The city didn’t mention any medical or ethical exemptions for unvaccinated teachers and staff in its announcement.
New York City Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter said 40,000 public school employees had submitted proof of vaccination to the city by Monday.
De Blasio noted that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had given full approval to the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine, calling it a “game-changing moment.” He also said the city would immediately begin negotiating with the major unions representing city teachers and staff about how the mandate could be implemented.
“While the city is asserting its legal authority to establish this mandate, there are many implementation details, including provisions for medical exceptions, that by law must be negotiated with the [United Federation of Teachers (UFT)] and other unions, and if necessary, resolved by arbitration,” UFT President Michael Mulgrew said in a statement following de Blasio’s announcement.
The Council of School Supervisors & Administrators (CSA), the city’s largest principals union, echoed the UFT and urged the city to engage in good-faith negotiations before implementing a universal mandate.
“While CSA has supported all efforts to encourage vaccination, we have also insisted that vaccination and testing policies are subjects for collective bargaining,” CSA President Mark Cannizzaro said in a statement Monday.
“Today, the mayor acknowledged that the city must negotiate the specifics of the new policy with school-based unions, and we will work to protect our members’ rights and interests at the bargaining table,” the statement continued.
New York City public employee unions, including the Emergency Medical Service workers union, previously criticized the mayor for issuing a vaccine mandate for all city workers.
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Thomas Catenacci on August 23, 2021
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