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Officials in a school in New York City on Sept. 2. Photo: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

About 1 million New York City public school students returned to all in-person classes on Monday for the first time since March 2020 and under a new vaccine mandate for all city Department of Education employees.

Why it matters: Around 148,000 employees — including teachers, custodians and office staff — returning to work in the largest U.S. school district will be required to receive at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine by Sept. 27 and will not have the option to submit a weekly coronavirus test instead.

New York City's public school system canceled in-person learning in November last year as the city entered its second major wave of new coronavirus cases.

By the numbers: The city today is again in the middle of a third, though minor, wave of new coronavirus cases because of the Delta variant, which spreads with greater ease than other versions of the virus.

  • The city has reported an average of 1,489 new cases, at least 66 hospitalizations and eight deaths from the virus over the last seven days, according to city data.
  • However, those figures have been slowly decreasing since the peak of the third wave, which occurred in mid-August.

Some New York City Department of Education employees disputed the vaccine mandate, and on Friday they won certain concessions.

  • The United Federation of Teachers said teachers who refuse to get vaccinated and have documented medical or religious exemptions must be offered non-classroom assignments, according to CNN.
  • Other unvaccinated school staff members would be offered unpaid leave that maintains their health coverage or be given a severance package.

The big picture: Many other school districts have struggled to consistently offer in-person learning so far this academic year, though they have looser restrictions in place.

Go deeper: Coronavirus cases up among children after start of school year

Go deeper

Updated 57 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Health: Fauci: "Confident" Omicron cases will peak in February — FDA OKs antiviral drug remdesivir for non-hospitalized patients — Walensky: CDC language "pivoting" on "fully vaccinated."
  2. Vaccines: The shifting definition of fully vaccinated — Annual vaccine preferable to boosters, says Pfizer CEO — Team USA 100% vaccinated ahead of Beijing Olympics.
  3. Politics: Virginia school boards sue Gov. Youngkin for lifting mask mandate — Gonzaga University revokes NBA great John Stockton's tickets over mask stance — Arizona governor sues Biden administration over funds tied to mandates.
  4. World: Beijing Olympic Committee lowers testing threshold ahead of Games — Beijing officials urge "emergency mode" before Winter Olympics — Austria approves vaccine mandate for adults.
  5. Variant tracker

Biden: It's "your patriotic duty" to get vaccinated

President Biden told unvaccinated Americans Tuesday that getting the COVID vaccine is "your patriotic duty" and "an obligation to your country."

Why it matters: Biden's remarks come amid a surge in new cases largely driven by the Omicron variant, which is now the dominant strain of the coronavirus in the U.S.

Dec 21, 2021 - Health

Chicago to require proof of vaccination at gyms, bars and restaurants

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Patrons will have to show proof of full vaccination to get into Chicago bars, restaurants, gyms and entertainment establishments that serve food or drinks starting Jan. 3.

Why it matters: More than a quarter of Chicagoans wouldn't currently qualify for entry under those rules. But at least one study shows the mandate could result in wider vaccination compliance.