New York City Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio expanded his vaccination mandate to private and religious school workers and staff on Thursday.
It began with all public school instructors and employees but now requires all private and parochial school teachers and personnel to present proof of immunization by December 20. A joint statement from de Blasio and Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi indicated approximately 56,000 staffers at 938 schools will be impacted by the extension.
“Vaccinations are the key to our recovery, and our public schools are among the safest places to be in the city. Childcare centers will now be just as safe, and it’s time to use the tools we have at our disposal to climb the ladder even further,” Mayor de Blasio said.
The mandate still does not force students to get the shot. Back in October, de Blasio was reportedly “opposed to requiring the shot for students because it might deter them from coming to class, which is more important.”
GOP Councilmember Inna Vernikov, who represents Brooklyn’s 48th District and was sworn in on Wednesday, tweeted, “Bill de Blasio needs to keep his hands off of our private schools. This mandate is just another way for government officials to sink their teeth into our private schools and attempt to exert control. If we let this slide, we are setting a dangerous precedent.”
The mandate also received pushback from private school officials. “‘There is going to be a lot of opposition to this, there is no doubt about it,’ a staffer at a Borough Park yeshiva told The Post. ‘A lot of us felt under attack already. This is going to continue that feeling.’”
The Post reported that Thomas Chadzutko, Superintendent of Schools for the Archdiocese of Brooklyn, is requesting de Blasio to reconsider this mandate for private and religious schools.
Many religious schools in New York have encouraged vaccinations and some private schools have even required students to be vaccinated, but Chadzutko wants individuals to make that choice for themselves, a spokesperson said.
Mayor de Blasio is in the final month of his term before he is replaced by Eric Adams. Even before de Blasio’s vaccine mandate, Adams said “he would take de Blasio’s mandate one step further and require COVID-19 vaccinations for all school children.”
“We already have a system in place that states before you start school you receive your vaccination. It is to protect the child and the student population. We saw historically what happens when you have an outbreak of a certain type of illness that takes place that you can prevent even from polio,” Adams said.
Adams will be sworn in as New York City’s new mayor on New Year’s Day. He has vowed “to get stuff done” in office and considers himself “practical” and “progressive.”