New York City on Thursday announced a COVID-19 mandate for all nonpublic school employees.

Under the mandate, approximately 56,000 employees of 938 yeshivas, Catholic schools and other private schools must provide proof of at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by Dec. 20.

“Vaccinations are the key to our recovery and our public schools are among the safest places to be in the city,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said. “Childcare centers will now be just as safe and it’s time to use the tools we have at our disposal to climb the ladder even further. 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.”

Additionally, the city said it will provide vaccines to any schools that request it — public or not — with vaccinations offered to eligible students and other staff at the school.

The city’s 150,000 public school workers were required to have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by Oct. 4.

New York City officials said the new mandate is in alignment with recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that teachers and staff be vaccinated as soon as possible.

“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,” New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Dave A. Chokshi said. “All teachers and school staff should get vaccinated as soon as possible. The COVID-19 vaccines are safe, effective and save lives.”

An official for the Superintendent of Schools for the Diocese of Brooklyn signed onto a letter requesting that the mayor and health commissioner reconsider the mandate noting there is currently an 88% vaccination rate among staff and teachers in schools in Brooklyn and Queens.

“While we support and generally 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 vacciantion as a condition of employment,” part of the letter read. “Many of our schools view COVID vaccination as a matter most appropriately left to individual choice, not a governmental fiat. This is an area where government should be using its bully pulpit to persuade, not its regulatory arm to coerce.”

The announcement comes on the same day that New York reported five new cases of the Omicron COVID-19 variant and a Minnesota resident who attended the Anime NYC 2021 convetnion also was diagnosed with the variant.

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