NEW YORK — While the delta variant continues to fuel new COVID cases, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is urging New York school districts in “high-risk” areas to issue “vaccine or test” mandates for teachers ahead of the new academic year.
During a press briefing Monday, the governor said school districts in CDC-designated red or yellow zones should immediately announce vaccine sanctions for teachers similar to his planned mandate for state workers.
Under Cuomo’s plan, state employees must show proof of vaccination or undergo regular testing in order to head into work.
“Schools open in one month. If you don’t set a policy today, you’re going to have chaos when school opens,” Cuomo said. “Because it will be impossible for a teacher to get the two shots done.”
As of late July, the COVID transmission rates across all of New York City and Long Island counties were considered “substantial” or “high,” as part of their new masking guidelines.
The new guidelines recommend that even vaccinated people return to wearing masks while indoors in these areas.
The New York State United Teachers union said they support encouraging more vaccinations, but not a vaccine mandate.
“We have advocated since the beginning of the year that any educator who wants a vaccine should have easy access to one. We would support local efforts to encourage more vaccinations, such as through programs that require that those who are not vaccinated get tested on a regular basis. But it’s critical that districts come up with plans to make testing available on-site and at no cost. What we have not supported is a vaccine mandate,” the union said in a statement.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Monday agreed and “strongly recommended” New Yorkers to wear a mask indoors, regardless of vaccination status.
There was no update as of Monday morning whether or not the New York City Department of Education or any Long Island school districts would mandate vaccines or regular testing for their teachers.