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NYC Announces Vaccine Mandate for All Department of Education Staff

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New York City is requiring all public school teachers, principals, custodians and office staff to have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccines by Sept. 27. 

The mandate — which affects all 148,000-some New York City Department of Education (DOE) employees — does not include the option to be tested each week for the coronavirus in lieu of getting a shot like previous mandates.

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“We know this is going to help ensure that everyone is safe,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a press conference on Monday. “We’re going to start immediately working with labor unions. I spoke to the leaders of key unions over the last few days, and we’re going to start bargaining with them immediately on the impact of it and how to ensure we can implement it properly and fairly.”

The mandate will be the first full vaccine mandate for city workers, opening the door for stricter requirements. De Blasio previously issued a policy requiring New York City municipal workers to be fully vaccinated by Sept. 13 or undergo weekly coronavirus testing late last month.

The head of the national American Federation of Teachers union also previously said she is in favor of vaccine mandates for educators. The United Federation of Teachers (UFT) supported de Blasio’s vaccine or weekly testing requirement in July, but said in a statement that the city must negotiate with the union for the stronger mandate.

“Our first priority is keeping our kids safe and the schools open,” Michael Mulgrew UFT’s president, said in a statement. “The city’s teachers have led the way on this issue, with the great majority already vaccinated. 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 UFT and other unions, and if necessary, resolved by arbitration.”

About 40,000 DOE employees have already demonstrated proof of vaccination online through the city’s vaccination portal, DOE Chancellor Meisha Porter said in the press conference.

Mulgrew estimated that 70 or 80 percent of union members are vaccinated against the coronavirus but does not have a definitive count, the New York Times reported. City officials have said that at least 63 percent of all DOE employees are vaccinated, and that about 75 percent of teachers who live in the city have received at least one dose, NYT reported. Only about 43 percent of New York City Police Department staff have been vaccinated. 

The mandate follows the start of a city program that requires patrons of restaurants, gyms and concert venues to be at least partially vaccinated to attend indoor events and dining. While the requirement won’t be enforced until Sept. 13, it’s already drawn a lawsuit, concern from the business community, and a little confusion on its start date.

The city requirements have left New York’s private employers wrestling with how to adopt vaccine policies without violating worker rights. While some employers have been reluctant to require vaccines or previously relied on the honor system, many have started to take a stricter line in recent weeks. 

Microsoft, United Airlines, NBCUniversal, Related Companies, Twitter and State Street, among others, are all requiring proof of vaccination for employees that want to work from the office. 

Just over 63 percent of New York City residents have received at least one dose of a vaccine, with 75 percent of Manhattan residents being fully vaccinated. Queens has a 70 percent vaccination rate, Staten Island at 59 percent, and Brooklyn and the Bronx tied at 56 percent, according to city data. Confirmed cases of the coronavirus are increasing, as the delta variant continues to drive COVID-19 cases in the city.

Celia Young can be reached at cyoung@commercialobserver.com.

This content was originally published here.

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