BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — For many, school starts in a month. For some districts, it's the first chance to return to in-person classes, five days a week.
With the spread of the Delta-variant of COVID-19, Governor Andrew Cuomo has already made the vaccine mandatory for state workers.
Monday, he suggested school districts create similar mandates.
“I think school districts should say vaccine or test, for teachers today. School opens in one month. If you don’t set a policy, today, you’re going to have chaos when school opens. Because it will be impossible for a teacher to get two shots done,” said Cuomo.
The state's teacher union is all for more people getting vaccinated, but don't agree with the governor's stance.
In a statement saying:
“We have advocated since the beginning of the year that any educator who wants a vaccine should have easy access to one. We would support local efforts to encourage more vaccinations, such as through programs that require that those who are not vaccinated get tested on a regular basis. But it’s critical that districts come up with plans to make testing available on-site and at no cost. What we have not supported is a vaccine mandate.”
One Buffalo Board of Education and NYSUT member tweeting about the union's response:
I’m a proud @nysut member and I oppose this message. It’s horribly contradicting. Unions represent what’s best for the collective. The vaccine is what is best for the collective- teachers, students, families, community- against this pandemic. https://t.co/g5lWh9fS5X— Larry Scott (@LarryScott1919) August 2, 2021
Phil Rumore the head of the Buffalo Teachers Federation said whatever decision is made, staff who can't take the vaccine, need options.
"We’re supportive of having teachers be vaccinated, but there should be an option for teachers that have immune system issues, that have religious issues. But they will get tested, by the schools, at the schools. They would get tested by the school nurses,” said Rumore.
Without a state of emergency in place, the governor does not have the power to enact a vaccine mandate over teachers state-wide.