New York Gov. Kathy Hochul announced Friday that students attending the state university system or New York City's college system must receive their COVID-19 booster shots before returning to classrooms.
The Democrat governor included the mandate in her "Winter Surge Plan 2.0" aimed at fighting the COVID-19 surge due to the omicron variant.
SUNY (state) and CUNY (New York City) students eligible to get booster shots are required to do so by Jan. 15 to return following the winter break. Students must also have a negative PCR test, and staff also must be vaccinated.
"In order to return to your college campus, you have to be boosted; this will be part of the reopening," Hochul said, ABC7 reported.
"You have to be boosted when they are eligible. We understand students just vaccinated in the last six months are not eligible for the booster. We know the date they received the first vaccination, so we know when they are eligible to be boosted."
Hochul said colleges pose problems different than those at elementary schools or high schools.
"Students congregate, they live on campus, and so it's a very different experience," Hochul said. "We saw some outbreaks before the [winter] break started just a few weeks ago."
Since replacing former Gov. Andrew Cuomo — who resigned in disgrace amid accusations of sexual harassment — Hochul has focused on pushing state residents to get vaccinated and boosted, on getting their kids vaccinated, and keeping kids in school.
She also announced that the state mandate for masks to be worn in indoor public spaces, unless a covered business has implemented a mandatory vaccination requirement, will be extended until Feb. 1.
When the mandate was first announced on Dec. 10, Hochul said it would be "temporary" and reassessed on Jan. 15.
Hochul said that she had asked the federal government to allow the state to limit visits to nursing homes and congregate settings to vaccinated individuals for at least the next two weeks; however that is not the case yet, ABC7 reported.
In the meantime, she urged anyone with a loved one in a nursing home to only visit if they are vaccinated.
Unvaccinated nursing home residents "are highly vulnerable right now because it is starting to spread through nursing homes," said Hochul, who added that 80 National Guard members were undergoing EMT training to help in medical settings.
On Dec. 24, Hochul released new guidelines that allow essential workers who test positive for COVID-19 to return to work sooner.
According to the latest guidelines, fully vaccinated and asymptomatic workers can go back to work five days after a positive test result, WABC reported.
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