NEW YORK CITY (PIX11) — While the delta variant continues to fuel new COVID cases, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is urging New York school districts in “high-risk” areas to issue “vaccine or test” mandates for teachers ahead of the new academic year.
During a press briefing Monday, 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.
Under the governor’s plan, state employees must show proof of vaccination or undergo regular testing in order to head into work.
“I believe school districts should say today, teachers must get vaccinated or tested weekly, if you are in a CDC high-risk area, the red or the yellow zones,” Gov. Cuomo said. “I think they should say that to teachers today.”
The governor said school districts should delay in setting vaccine policies, because teachers will need time to get one or two shots before school starts in a month.
“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,” the union said in a statement.
On Sunday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention listed Monroe County among several New York counties with “substantial” COVID-19 transmission.
The CDC’s reporting comes days after it recommended areas with “substantial” and “high” transmission mask up indoors, regardless of vaccination status.