Cuomo: New York State Can’t Legally Mandate Vaccine For Students
New York state schools are set to reopen for all in-person learning.
On Monday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that all New York State schools will reopen for full in-person learning for the 2021-2022 school year beginning in September, based on the current COVID trajectory.
"Our children lost so much as COVID struck our state. A year of socialization, a year of memories, and even more," Cuomo said. "While teachers and school administrators did an incredible job pivoting to remote learning with virtually zero notice, there's no denying the discrimination students who did not have the right equipment faced.
Schools went to remote-only teaching in 2020. Many students did return to the classroom this school year, but many districts did not return to in-class learning full-time.
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On Monday, Cuomo announced the statewide 7-day COVID positivity rate dropped to 0.90 percent, the lowest since Sept. 21, 2020. The statewide 7-day positivity rate has now declined for 49 straight days, officials say. With the statewide infection rate dropping, Cuomo believes it should be safe for everyone to take classes in-person this fall.
"With the way our COVID numbers are currently trending, there is no reason why our students should not get back to in-person learning as usual and we look forward to welcoming them back. If there is a change in the trajectory of the virus, we will revisit the decision," Cuomo said on Monday.
Last week, Gov. Cuomo announced vaccinated New Yorkers no longer need to wear a mask in most indoor and outdoor settings. However, masks are still mandatory in schools. It's unclear as of this writing if masks will be required in the fall.
Cuomo also said as of now students won't be mandated to get a COVID vaccine because New York can’t legally require vaccines when it's only been approved for emergency use.
"By law, you can't mandate vaccines if it's emergency use," Cuomo said on Monday.
Things, however, could change by the start of the upcoming school year if the FDA gives full approval to the vaccine. Cuomo didn't announce what he plans to do if the FDA gives full approval but noted mandatory vaccines is a controversial topic.
"It's a controversial topic. Remember, we mandated the measles vaccine about two years ago, where there was an uptick in measles. And it was very controversial. You have some people who never sent their child back to school because they’re against the vaccine,” Cuomo said.