(AP) — All New York City public school teachers and other staffers will have to get vaccinated against the coronavirus, officials said Monday, ramping up pandemic protections as the nation’s largest school system prepares for classes to start next month.
The city previously said teachers, like other city employees, would have to get the shots or get tested weekly for the virus.
The new policy marks the first no-option vaccination mandate for a broad group of city workers in the nation’s most populous city, though Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Friday that coaches and students in football, basketball and other “high-risk” sports would have to get inoculated before play begins.
Now, about 148,000 school employees — and contractors who work in schools — will have to get at least a first dose by September 27, according to an announcement from the Democratic mayor and the city health and education departments.
“We’re going to do whatever it takes to make sure that everyone is safe and that we push back delta,” de Blasio said at a virtual news briefing.
Schools Chancellor Meisha Ross Porter called the policy “another layer of protection for our kids,” including her own 11th-grader.
The city hasn’t immediately said whether there will be exemptions or what the penalty will be for refusing, though de Blasio told MSNBC later Monday that “there will clearly be consequences.”
The previous vaccinate-or-test requirement had provisions for unpaid suspensions for workers who didn’t comply.
De Blasio said the city would start bargaining this week with school system unions over specifics, and officials hope for agreements.
But the mayor said the city intends to implement the requirement on September 27, with or without a deal.
Unions that represent city school employees said they needed answers — and input.