NEW JERSEY (WABC) -- New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy announced a vaccine or testing mandate for all school personnel grades pre-K through 12.
Murphy said those personnel will be required to either be fully vaccinated by Oct. 18 or undergo regular testing at a minimum of once or twice each week.
As nearly 1.5 million students prepare to return to classes in New Jersey for the first time since March 2020, Murphy believes the mandate is the key to slowing the pandemic and keeping people healthy.
"We think the steps we're taking today, both the step itself and the timing, is the right mix based on what we're looking at in terms of modeling," Murphy said.
His executive order applies to both teachers and staff at both public and private schools.
School administrators in Newark are embracing the mandate and say it's a baseline for maintaining the health and safety of students and staff in the classroom.
Murphy also announced that all state employees, including those at state agencies, authorities, and public colleges and universities - are required to complete a full vaccination course or undergo regular testing at a minimum of once to twice each week.
NJEA President Marie Blistan, Vice President and President-elect Sean M. Spiller, Secretary-Treasurer and Vice President-elect Steve Beatty and Secretary-Treasurer-elect Petal Robertson issued this statement:
"From the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have called for following the guidance of public health officials to keep the students and staff in our public schools safe. Gov. Murphy has been a great partner in that effort to ensure that our students continue to learn and grow while remaining as protected as possible. Today's executive order, which requires school employees either to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or to undergo regular COVID-19 testing, is another example of Gov. Murphy's unwavering commitment to the health and safety of NJEA members and the students we serve.
"For months now, NJEA has strongly supported and publicly promoted vaccination for all eligible individuals. We ran ads last spring featuring our members talking about the importance of vaccination. COVID-19 vaccines are the best tool we have to better protect our schools and communities against this pandemic and the terrible toll it continues to take. Public health experts agree on the importance of widespread vaccination. That is why we strongly agree that Gov. Murphy's executive order is appropriate and responsible under current conditions.
"We will continue to urge everyone who is eligible and able to get vaccinated. Along with masking and other COVID-19 safety measures, that is the best way to keep all of our communities safe and to move New Jersey through this pandemic."
Details on how the required weekly testing will be handled are still being worked out.
Meanwhile, also on Monday, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that NYC public school employees will have to have received at least one dose of the COVID vaccine by September 27th. The new vaccination policy will not allow weekly testing as an option.
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