Aug 23, 2021 - Health

New Jersey implements vaccine mandate for school and state workers

People come to be tested for COVID-19 at a test site
People come to be tested for COVID-19 at a test site in Paramus, New Jersey. Photo: David Dee Delgado/Getty Images

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy announced in a series of tweets Monday that all state workers and preschool through high school teachers will be required to get vaccinated against COVID-19 by Oct. 18 or submit to weekly testing.

Why it matters: New Jersey joins a growing contingent of states instituting similar requirements for state employees and school teachers and staff.

The state of play: The new mandate will apply to employees at state agencies, authorities, public colleges and universities, and all staff at all preschools and K-12 schools — including "public, private and parochial preschool programs and elementary and secondary schools, including charter and renaissance schools" — the Democratic governor said in a series of tweets.

  • It will apply equally to both full- and part-time employees, he added.
  • "We’re continuing to do all we can to ensure a safe start to the school year," Murphy tweeted.
  • "Strong masking and vaccination protocols, in tandem with other safety measures, are our best consolidated tool for keeping our schools open for full-time, in-person instruction," he added.

The big picture: The New Jersey Education Association and state chapters of the School Nurses Association and American Academy of Pediatrics all support the order, the Associated Press reports.

  • States, including California and Washington, have passed vaccine mandates for school staff.
  • While California will allow teachers and state workers to submit to regular testing if they don't want to be vaccinated, Washington adopted a harder line, making non-compliers potentially subject to firing.
  • Earlier Monday, New York City announced a vaccine mandate for public school staff that will not allow an option for weekly testing.
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