New Jersey’s governor and the New York City mayor announced on Monday that they will be requiring all school employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine following the FDA’s approval of the drug. New Jersey will allow those who do not want to take the vaccine the option of COVID-19 testing as an alternative.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy told reporters he would be signing an executive order requiring all employees of public, private, and parochial schools, from preschools through grade 12, to be fully vaccinated by Oct. 18.
“We know that strong masking and vaccination protocols, in tandem with other safety measures are our best consolidated tool for keeping our schools open for full-time in-person instruction, and our educational communities safe,” Murphy said.
Earlier this month, Murphy mandated masks for all students, school personnel, and visitors in indoor school premises for the start of the 2021-2022 school year.
The governor said that the daily number of children hospitalized because of COVID-19 nationwide hit a daily average of 1,234 last week and has tripled in four weeks, citing data from the Department of Health and Human Services.
In New Jersey, there are 13 confirmed COVID-19 cases among children and seven possible COVID-19 cases under investigation, he added.
COVID-19 is the disease caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.
Murphy also announced at the conference that the same vaccination policy will apply to all state employees, including those at all state agencies, authorities, public colleges, and universities, regardless of whether they are full, part-time, or contract workers.
All New York City public school teachers and other staffers will have to get vaccinated against the CCP virus, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Monday. Employees will have to provide proof of the first dose of vaccination by Sept. 27, de Blasio said.
The mayor has not offered a test-out option. Unions have bristled at the new requirement, saying the city needed to negotiate, not dictate. Two big city workers’ groups were planning to file a labor complaint or take legal action.
The implementation of the mandate followed CDC recommendations advising that school teachers and staff be vaccinated as soon as possible to help schools fully resume their operations in the fall, according to a statement.
Currently, at least 63 percent of public education workers in New York City have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine and the government’s goal is to reach 100 percent by the mandated date, the statement said.
Similar vaccination requirement for state employees, childcare, and school staff have been enacted in California, Washington, Oregon, and Connecticut last week by Gov. Ned Lamont.
In Connecticut, workers will be required to receive at least one dose of vaccine against the CCP virus by Sept. 27, according to a statement from Lamont’s office.
Connecticut is also providing an alternative option for those who do not wish to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Employees, except hospital and long-term care staff, can be exempted from the mandate if they test negative for COVID-19 on a weekly basis, the statement said. It is not clear who will pay for the weekly testing.
Connecticut Democratic Senate President Martin M. Looney and Democratic Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff supported the mandate.
“I welcome the governor’s announcement today that all state employees must either be vaccinated against the coronavirus or undergo weekly testing. Connecticut residents should rest assured that the people working every day on their behalf are virus-free and are committed to their health and safety,” Looney said in a statement.
Connecticut House Republican Leader Vincent Candelora and Senate Republican Leader Kevin Kelly criticized the governor’s order.
“We fear the governor may have opened a can of worms by issuing this executive order that will surely trigger many immediately unanswerable questions from workers and entities impacted by it—from how much it will cost employees who instead choose weekly testing to the scope of disciplinary action faced by those who fail to comply with this mandate altogether,” the Republican lawmakers said in a statement.
According to a report published by The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association, children as of Aug. 19 have represented 14.6 percent of all COVID-19 cases in the United States since the beginning of the pandemic.
During the week ending Aug. 19, children accounted for 22.4 percent of weekly reported COVID-19 cases, according to the report.
“At this time, it appears that severe illness due to COVID-19 is uncommon among children,” the report says. “However, there is an urgent need to collect more data on longer-term impacts of the pandemic on children.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.