Department of Education employees in NYC will face city's first full vaccine mandate

Mayor Bill de Blasio discussed the mandate Monday, shortly after the FDA's full approval of the Pfizer vaccine was announced
Bill de Blasio coronavirus presser

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio says all NYC Department of Education employees must have received at least one  coronavirus vaccine shot by Sept. 27.

De Blasio gave the order Monday, hours after the Food and Drug Administration gave final approval to Pfizer-BioNTech's vaccine for individuals 16 and older.

The city will not offer a remote learning option for the new school year, and the mayor hopes to reassure parents and staff that schools are safe, despite the spread of the virus's virulent Delta variant. 

The mandate, which will apply to nearly 150,000 people, will likely lead the way for other schools districts across the country following the FDA approval. NYC joins Chicago and Los Angeles as well as Oregon and Washington state, which have already announced full vaccine mandates for teachers.

The city remains in negotiations with the United Federation of Teachers and other unions that represent educators to figure out what will happen to employees who do not comply with the mandate.

Last month, the mayor said that teachers and staff who failed to comply with the vaccine or testing requirement would be suspended without pay. A similar set of parameters is likely for those who refuse the vaccine.

Challenges, however, to the mandate are expected, and on Monday night, District Council 37, a union representing classroom aides, lunch staff, and other school employees, said it would be filing a formal complaint about the mandate.

The council's president, Henry Garrido, said in a statement, "While we strongly encourage our members to get vaccinated, we do not believe that the city has the legal authority to change the terms and conditions of employment without bargaining."

De Blasio is eager to re-open schools at full capacity and prove that his city is open for business. However, with just three weeks left before the first day of classes, his administration has not yet provided details on testing for students, how students will quarantine when they test positive, and how some students will continue learning while they are under temporary quarantine. The mayor has promised more of a plan later this week.