New York City Mandates COVID-19 Vaccines for Religious, Private School Workers

By Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. news and stories relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. He is based in Maryland.
December 4, 2021 Updated: December 4, 2021

New York City religious and private school workers must get a dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by Dec. 20 or face termination.

Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democrat, announced the new mandate this week.

It’s an extension of an order that applied to all public school employees.

The extension applies to roughly 56,000 workers across 938 schools.

“We’re doing everything in our power to protect our students and school staff, and a mandate for nonpublic school employees will help keep our school communities and youngest New Yorkers safe,” de Blasio, who will leave office next month, said in a statement.

“The health and safety of our children is paramount, and we are extending our vaccine mandate to ensure all schools are protected from COVID-19,” Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi added.

De Blasio had already announced a new mandate, for employees at childcare businesses.

“We are, as I like to say, climbing the ladder, going to use more and more aggressive tools to handle, you know, what’s happening now with COVID, the colder weather, the holidays, the dangers posed by” the Omicron variant, de Blasio said during an appearance on a WYNC radio show.

COVID-19 is the disease caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus. The Omicron variant of the virus was recently identified and there are fears it transmits more easily than earlier strains.

New York Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard Gottfried, a Democrat, said he supports extending the school mandate to private and religious institutions.

“Vaccine mandates have led to higher vaccination rates. As we head into the winter, it is critical for all, especially those who work in public settings like our schools, to be fully vaccinated,” he said in a statement.

Others challenged the requirement.

“Many of our schools view COVID vaccination as a matter most appropriately left to individual choice, not governmental fiat,” Rabbi David Zwiebel, chairman of the Committee of New York City Religious and Independent School Officials, told de Blasio and Choksi in a letter.

“This is an area where government should be using its bully pulpit to persuade, not its regulatory arm to coerce,” he said, adding that there are concerns a vaccination mandate will lead to teaching vacancies and, potentially, school closures.

Mayor-elect Eric Adams, a Democrat, has signaled he plans to not only keep de Blasio’s mandates in place, but add a new one that would require all school students to get vaccinated.

Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. news and stories relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. He is based in Maryland.