ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — In a briefing on Monday Gov. Andrew Cuomo urged New York school districts in “high-risk” areas to issue “vaccine or test” mandates for teachers ahead of the new academic year.
The governor said school districts in CDC-designated red or yellow zones should announce vaccine sanctions for teachers similar to his planned mandate for state workers.
“I think school districts should say ‘vaccinate or test,’” Gov. Cuomo said. “Schools open in one month and if you don’t set a policy today, you’re going to have chaos in one month.”
Officials from the New York State United Teachers union said they support encouraging more vaccinations, but not a vaccine mandate:
“We have advocated since the beginning of the year that any educator who wants a vaccine should have easy access to one. We would support local efforts to encourage more vaccinations, such as through programs that require that those who are not vaccinated get tested on a regular basis. But it’s critical that districts come up with plans to make testing available on-site and at no cost. What we have not supported is a vaccine mandate.”
“Virtually everybody agrees the best case scenario for learning for students is in-person,” President of Rochester Teacher’s Union Adam Urbanski said.
Urbanski says he and many other colleagues, parents and students want schools open fully this fall. To do so, he says masking should continue, and vaccination should be highly encouraged.
Urbanski says he believes the vaccine should remain an option for those who don’t want it, when it comes to schools. He says teachers should have the option to get tested every week instead.
“Some have health reasons for it, because there’s some evidence of some complications from immune deficient individuals, some have religious objections,” said Urbanski.
He says he supports all the encouragement to get the shot, but a majority of the staff already are vaccinated.
“We estimate about 85% of teachers in the Rochester City School District are already vaccinated.”
He says combine this with continued mask-wearing, and schools are good to go for the fall.
Colleges like Monroe Community College are taking a similar approach, and requiring everyone wear masks on campus.
News 8 WROC has reached out to the Rochester City School District for comment. A representative tells us there will be no vaccine mandate for teachers right now.