Update (1200ET): Hours after NYC confirmed its revised vaccine mandate for teachers and other public-school employees, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy announced to the press, and the people of the Garden State, that NJ would impose its own version - albeit a more mild one - of the requirement for all state employees.
All state employees must now take a full course of vaccines or undergo testing once per week, with compliance expected by Oct. 18.
NEW: All state employees – including those at state agencies, authorities, and public colleges and universities – are required to complete a full vaccination course or undergo regular testing at a minimum of once to twice each week.— Governor Phil Murphy (@GovMurphy) August 23, 2021
Full compliance is required by October 18th. pic.twitter.com/zgn7zFO5HO
We're sure it's exactly what NJ public employees wanted to hear while they were wading through the water (for all those who can't work from home) this morning.
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Mere minutes after the FDA announced that it had finally approved Pfizer's coronavirus jab for all patient's over the age of 16, NYC announced a new, revised vaccine mandate for all NYC public school teachers: either get the jab, or go find somewhere else to work.
That's right: according to the new mandate, NYC teachers, as well as principals, other administrators, custodians and central-office staff will no longer have the option of submitting to weekly testing instead of getting the vaccine. The new mandate will impact some 148,000 employers (NYC is home to the largest school district in the country, with more than 1MM students, who we suspect will all be required to get the vaccine once it's approved for their age groups).
NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) announces COVID vaccine mandate for all public school teachers and staff with no option to opt-out. pic.twitter.com/lSJIfIBaWv— The Recount (@therecount) August 23, 2021
As the NYT explained, 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, which the mayor said Monday the city was considering. Last month, Mayor Bill de Blasio issued a mandate for city workers that allowed for those unvaccinated to submit for weekly coronavirus testing.
"We know this is going to help ensure that everyone is safe," Mr. de Blasio said during a news conference on Monday, adding that city schools had extremely low virus transmission last year. The mandate, the mayor said, will help the city "build on that success."
While the mayor's push is likely to prove unpopular with many rank-and-file members; the city's teacher's unions, and unions representing other DoE staff, have signed off on the new mandate (though they're still negotiating about what might happen to workers who continue to refuse). UFT President Michael Mulgrew acknowledged that the city had the legal right to impose the mandate, but he told reporters details were still being hashed out.
The city announced last month that any teacher who failed to comply with both the vaccination requirement, and the required weekly testing for those who didn't get the jab, would be suspended without pay.
"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 U.F.T. and other unions, and if necessary, resolved by arbitration," Mr. Mulgrew said in a statement.
Mayor de Blasio has insisted that even if negotiations stall, the mandate will still be implemented. Meisha Porter, the chancellor of NYC's schools, said she expects a high level of compliance from school staff on the mandate. "I do not expect a staffing shortage," Porter said.
The FDA's approval will likely also trigger a requirement at the State University of New York and City University of New York - public colleges in the Empire State - that one must be vaccinated before attending in-person classes.
Mayor de Blasio said on Monday that broad vaccine mandates for eligible students are "not on the table" (perhaps because the Constitution mandates all students must receive a fair and equal education). However, 20K or so students who participate in sports like basketball and football will need to be vaccinated by the start of the season.
He has also insisted that all students will return to schools in person on Sept. 13. But with three weeks to go until the first day of school, he has yet to specify how the city will handle testing or the quarantining of positive cases. Many of his fellow mayors are eager to hear, because cities including LA, Chicago and Washington State have also imposed vaccine mandates for teachers and school staff. And pretty soon, many cities will follow suit (though some state governments have barred these types of mandates), along with employers in predominantly blue states around the country.
In other news, as employers around the country grapple with whether to do the Biden Administration's bidding and impose mandates for workers, former Va. Gov. and longtime Clintonite Terry McAuliffe asked employers in his state to please order all workers to comply.
BREAKING: Following the full FDA approval of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine this morning, I’m calling on EVERY Virginia employer to require all eligible employees to be vaccinated. We need every eligible Virginian to get vaccinated to beat this virus. Together, we'll get it done.— Terry McAuliffe (@TerryMcAuliffe) August 23, 2021