New York City is planning a new directive as part of the City’s latest push to expand vaccine mandates. The new demand, which is expected to be in place within the next two weeks, affects 930 schools and 56,000 employees. It will mandate all employees at yeshivas and other private schools to be vaccinated against COVID-19 and show proof of having received the first dose of a vaccine by December 20.“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,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement.
So far, teachers and other employees at public schools have been required to get vaccinated since August of this year. Other City employees, including police officers and firefighters, have been required to vaccinate as well. Mayor de Blasio’s vaccination mandates have faced resistance from unions, but most of those required to do so got vaccinated eventually. Proof of vaccination is also required for indoor dining, entertainment, and gyms.
Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zwiebel, Chairman of the Committee of NYC Religious and Independent School Officials, sent a letter to de Blasio and Chokshi on Thursday, December 2, saying, the Committee, which represents Jewish, Greek Orthodox, Catholic, Lutheran, Adventist, and historically black independent schools, “firmly opposes any such mandate.”
“While we generally support and encourage Covid vaccination in our schools, and while in fact the large majority of our schools’ employees are so vaccinated, most of our schools do not insist upon such vaccination as a condition of employment,” Rabbi Zwiebel wrote. “Many of our schools view Covid vaccination as a matter most appropriately left to individual choice, not government fiat. This is an area where government should be using its bully pulpit to persuade, not its regulatory arm to coerce.”
It appears likely that yeshivos and frum organizations and institutions will push back and file a lawsuit to fight the new mandate.