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NYC expands vaccine mandate to students in band, chorus, and other high-risk extracurriculars

A student with a red mask below his chin plays a trumpet outside. Trees are in the background.

New York City students who want to participate in high-risk extracurricular programs will have to get vaccinated against COVID. Above a band class plays outside.

Allison Shelley for American Education: Images of Teachers and Students in Action

New York City is expanding its COVID vaccination requirements for students, making the shots mandatory for those who participate in extracurricular activities that are considered high risk, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Friday. 

The requirement will apply to students who are old enough to be vaccinated and want to take part in activities such as chorus, band, and musical theater beyond the normal school day. It does not apply to students enrolled in similar classes as part of their required course load, the mayor said. 

Classes start Sept. 13 with no option to learn remotely. Campuses will reopen to about 1 million students in the nation’s largest school district. 

“We want to protect our young people,” de Blasio said on WNYC. “I want young people to enjoy these activities, but I want to do it safely.”

High school athletes who participate in high-risk sports in education department leagues are already required to get vaccinated. Sports players have to receive their shots by the first day of competitive play. Already, the city’s records show multiple cases of COVID have been reported by teams in practice this summer. 

To participate in extracurricular programs, students will have to show proof of their fist dose by Sept. 27. Officials did not immediately say whether students can start after just a single dose, or whether they will have to be fully vaccinated. 

The mayor on Friday echoed his position that the city still isn’t considering a broader vaccine mandate for students. On Thursday, the school board of Los Angeles, the second largest school district in the country, voted to require the shots for eligible students.

Rather, de Blasio said he was heartened by the level of vaccinations among children. Almost two-thirds of youth ages 12 to 17 have already received at least one dose, and the mayor said he expects that figure will continue to rise as schools are set to offer the shots on every campus that has eligible students once buildings reopen. 

“We will look at things as we go along but I don’t see that. It’s not on the table now,” de Blasio said.

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