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N.Y.C. Will Mandate Vaccines for Teachers and School Staff

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N.Y.C. is expected to require shots for all education staff, including teachers and principals.

New York City will join Washington State, Los Angeles and Chicago, which have all announced full vaccine mandates for teachers in the last few weeks.Credit…Sarah Blesener for The New York Times

Aug. 23, 2021, 9:30 a.m. ET

New York City will require every Department of Education employee — including teachers, principals, custodians and all central office staff — to have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine by Sept. 27, without the option of instead submitting to weekly testing.

The new, stricter mandate, which will be announced on Monday, will affect some 148,000 city employees. It is an escalation in Mayor Bill de Blasio’s effort to slow the spread of the Delta variant by getting more city residents vaccinated.

Education staffers are the first group of city workers to face a full vaccine mandate. The announcement also opens the door to a broader vaccine mandate of city workers. Last month, Mr. de Blasio issued a mandate for city workers that allowed for those unvaccinated to submit for weekly coronavirus testing.

Mr. de Blasio’s push is likely to be unpopular with some D.O.E. employees, but is supported by the city’s powerful teachers’ union. The city is still negotiating with the United Federation of Teachers on what will happen to staffers who do not comply with the mandate.

The mayor’s announcement is sure to be buoyed by the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on Monday.

The three vaccines currently in circulation in the United States are being administered through an emergency authorization from the F.D.A.

New York City will join Washington State, Los Angeles and Chicago, which have all announced full vaccine mandates for teachers in the last few weeks.

The fact that all teachers and staff in the city’s 1,800 public schools will now have to be fully vaccinated is likely to reassure many parents who are anxious about sending their children back into classrooms next month.

Mr. de Blasio has been adamant that all students will return to schools in person on Sept. 13. But with three weeks to go until the first day of classes, he has not yet said how the city will handle testing or the quarantining of positive cases, a delay that has deeply frustrated parents and educators. The city is not offering a remote learning option.

The precise percentage of teachers who have been vaccinated is still unknown. City officials have said that more than 63 percent of all Department of Education employees are vaccinated, but they have said that their figures do not include employees who got their shots outside New York City. About 75 percent of teachers who live in New York City have received at least one dose. By contrast, only about 43 percent of Police Department employees have been vaccinated.

Michael Mulgrew, the president of the U.F.T., has estimated that 70 or even 80 percent of his members are vaccinated, regardless of where they live, but his union also lacks definitive numbers. The new mandate will end the guessing game.

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