New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy will require all teachers to get vaccinated against COVID-19, according to a report in NJ.com.
It’s not yet clear whether teachers will be given the option to undergo weekly testing if they opt out of the vaccine. Murphy has already mandated workers at hospitals, nursing homes, health-care facilities, and correctional facilities be vaccinated by September 7th or get tested every week.
The announcement, which is expected in the coming days, would follow similar requirements for teachers in California, Washington, and Hawaii. While California and Hawaii are allowing teachers to be tested weekly if they are not vaccinated, Washington is mandating vaccinations for all. This comes as the more infectious delta variant contributes to an increase in COVID-19 cases across the country, with the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention data showing 48 states—including New Jersey—with high levels of transmission (Maine and Vermont have substantial levels of transmission).
Murphy’s office declined to comment. When asked about vaccinations in schools last week, Murphy said he was looking at all options but seemed to lean toward offering weekly testing as an alternative.
“The double-headed notion feels like the right one,” he said during a briefing last Monday. “Either require a vaccination or a very high frequency of testing alongside of it, whenever it is that we get there.”
A spokesman for the New Jersey Education Association said the union has promoted vaccinations among its members and would support a vaccine mandate if it offered teachers a testing option.
“If the governor’s executive order requiring vaccination or regular testing in certain other sectors is extended to schools, we will work to ensure that it is implemented in a way that protects the health and welfare of everyone involved,” NJEA spokesman Steve Baker said in a statement.
Earlier this month, Murphy said all students and teachers need to wear masks when schools resume for in-person learning in September.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, meanwhile, is requiring teachers to get vaccinated or undergo weekly testing. It’s not clear if he will make vaccinations a condition for employment.