Gov. Phil Murphy announced Monday that all New Jersey state workers will be required to be vaccinated for the coronavirus or undergo regular testing. Also, the Democratic governor included in the mandate teachers and school employees. The deadline for the regulations to go into effect is October 18.
Murphy explained that the measure embraces all state workers. “Those at all state agencies, authorities, and public colleges and universities, whether they be full, or part-time, or contract employees.”
According to nj.com, the Garden State already requires all workers in hospitals, long-term care centers, prisons, and a number of other state and private health-care facilities and high-risk congregate settings to be fully vaccinated or be subject to repeated testing. Those places have until September 7 to adhere to the program.
Officials said this measure was an effort to protect vulnerable residents and curb the spread of the delta variant of the virus that has been driving upticks in statewide cases and hospitalizations. Murphy had said they were going to start “with the most vulnerable and then we’ll see how that goes.”
Those residents who choose not to be vaccinated will be tested once to twice weekly “at minimum,” the governor noted.
"Once again, @GovMurphy has shown courage by making this difficult decision to require vaccination or regular testing for all prekindergarten-to-12 personnel and public college-university employees." — AFTNJ President Donna M. Chiera@AFTunion @rweingarten pic.twitter.com/bClBP84KFy
— AFT New Jersey (@AFTNJ) August 23, 2021
Regarding the other sector in which the same vaccination requirement will be applied, Murphy explained during his regular COVID-19 briefing that the order “applies to all public, private, and parochial preschool programs and elementary and secondary schools, including charter and renaissance schools.”
“And to be clear, it also applies to all individuals employed by a school, regardless of whether they work full time or part-time,” he added. “This includes administrators, educators and educational support professionals, individuals providing food, custodial, or administrative support services, substitute teachers, whether employed directly by a school or otherwise contracted and other school employees.”
You can read: What you need to know about N.J.’s new mask mandate
As a solid argument to justify the vaccination requirement, Murphy noted how more than 13,000 students and staff are quarantining due to exposure in Hillsborough County, Florida, and that more than 20,000 students across Mississippi have been exposed, according to published reports.
The governor made it clear that the priority is to protect children and educational staff. “I made this case two weeks ago , we’re not going to sacrifice the health of our kids or staff, and masking and vaccinations of both students and staff, along with a layered approach to safety, is our top priority for starting the year.”
Earlier in the month, Murphy announced the state will require students and staff members in preschool through 12th grade to wear masks at the start of the new academic year.
According to state data, the Delta variant accounted for 96% of cases in New Jersey based on a sampling of positive tests over the last two weeks of July.
All of New Jersey’s 21 counties are now listed as having “high” rates of coronavirus transmission, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC is recommending people in all 21 counties wear masks for indoor public settings regarding of vaccination rates.