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Top NYC private schools rocked by CRT scandals issue COVID vaccine mandates

New York City’s most exclusive and expensive fee-paying schools are ordering students over the age of five to get the COVID-19 vaccine. 

The principals of elite schools including Spence, Chapin located on Manhattan’s posh Upper East Side and Horace Mann, located in the Bronx, have sent letters and emails home to parents requesting pupils get the shot over the winter break. 

The schools, many of which are described as being the ‘Ivy League of Preparatory Schools, and which charge upwards of $55,000-a-year, are requesting children come back from their Christmas holidays fully vaccinated. 

Some of the schools already informed parents via letter of the impending requirements and deadlines for students to receive the jab. Pfizer’s two-shot COVID vaccine is now available in the US for all children aged five and up. 

New York City has announced a new COVID-19 vaccine mandate that will require all nonpublic school employees to get their first shot by December 20

‘The expectation is now for all Spence students ages 5-11 to have received their first dose of COVID vaccine before January 7, 2022, and to be fully vaccinated by February 11, 2022,’ Spence’s Principal Bodie Brizentine wrote to parents last month.

Spence was one of multiple elite academies rocked by scandals over their teaching of critical race theory last year, with the vaccine mandate likely to fray the nerves of some parents angered at what their youngsters were being taught about race.  

Religious and medical exemptions will be considered before this Monday.

‘No consideration of exemptions will be accepted after this date,’ Brizentine warned. 

Thomas Kelly, Head of School at Horace Mann sent a similar letter. 

‘No one with children ages five through eleven should be surprised by the school’s decision to mandate the new Pfizer vaccine,’ Kelly wrote in a note sent over email. 

It affects roughly 56,000 employees of 938 yeshivas, Catholic schools and other private schools including the posh $57,000-a-year all-girls Spence School on Manhattan's Upper East Side

It affects roughly 56,000 employees of 938 yeshivas, Catholic schools and other private schools including the posh $57,000-a-year all-girls Spence School on Manhattan’s Upper East Side

Meanwhile, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has also extended his order requiring COVID-19 vaccines to include all teachers and staff at private and religious schools before the winter vacation.  

De Blasio, a Democrat, on Thursday said that employees at nonpublic schools will be required to show they’ve received at least one dose of a vaccine by December 20.

The order will apply to about 56,000 employees at 938 schools in New York City and include some of the city’s most elite educational establishments including Spence, Chapin, and Horace Mann.

De Blasio issued a mandate that took effect in October requiring the shots for workers in the city’s public school system, which is the largest in the country. 

De Blasio extended the mandates to cover the city’s workforce, including police officers, firefighters and sanitation workers, and broadened the order this week to include child care workers.

‘We’re doing everything in our power to protect our students and school staff, and a mandate for nonpublic school employees will help keep our school communities and youngest New Yorkers safe,’ de Blasio said in a statement.

The incoming mayor, Eric Adams has also said that he backs mandatory student vaccinations. ‘We already have a system in place that states before you start school, you receive your vaccination. It is to protect the child and the student population,’ Adams stated.

City Hall officials said vaccinations will be offered at any private or religious schools that request them and the city will work with school officials to prepare for the mandate’s deadline and ensure they comply.

Prestigious all-girls schools, including Chapin, pictured, were rocked last year by allegations of racism made by generations of black graduates

Prestigious all-girls schools, including Chapin, pictured, were rocked last year by allegations of racism made by generations of black graduates

City officials have not revealed how many of the private school employees are already vaccinated and how the city would enforce the mandate at private schools.

Public school teachers and staff who did not comply with the city’s earlier order were placed on unpaid leave.

Alongside private, those attending Catholic schools and Jewish Yeshivas will have to be vaccinated against the coronavirus, in what is believed to be the largest effort in the nation to force religious schools to adhere to a vaccine mandate. 

The decision not to allow religious exemptions faced immediate opposition from some Jewish and Catholic leaders. 

Rabbi David Zwiebel, the chairman of the Committee of NYC Religious and Independent School Officials, said in a letter to the mayor Thursday that the committee ‘firmly opposes’ the mandate and urged him to reconsider.

‘While we support and generally encourage Covid vaccination in our schools, and while in fact the large majority of our schools’ employees are so vaccinated, most of our schools do not insist upon such vaccination as a condition of employment. Many of our schools view Covid vaccination as a matter most appropriately left to individual choice, not governmental fiat,’ Zwiebel wrote in the letter.

Horace Mann Head of School Thomas Kelly told parents that they shouldn’t be surprised by the school’s new vaccine mandate.

Horace Mann Head of School Thomas Kelly told parents that they shouldn’t be surprised by the school’s new vaccine mandate.

‘This is an area where government should be using its bully pulpit to persuade, not its regulatory arm to coerce.’ 

He said a small number of unvaccinated employees will likely continue to resist getting the shots and leave schools struggling to fill vacancies.

Most of New York City’s COVID-19 vaccine mandates have been met with legal challenges but were largely allowed by the courts to go into effect.

New York state is among a handful of states that eliminated the religious exemption to vaccine requirements for schoolchildren. 

Earlier this year, parents at the posh $57,000-a-year all-girls Spence School in Manhattan's Upper East Side neighborhood started a letter-writing campaign to demand the academy take a 'step backward' from its woke agenda.

Earlier this year, parents at the posh $57,000-a-year all-girls Spence School in Manhattan’s Upper East Side neighborhood started a letter-writing campaign to demand the academy take a ‘step backward’ from its woke agenda.

The 2019 move came amid the nation’s worst measles outbreak in decades, with a majority of cases from outbreaks in New York in Orthodox Jewish communities.

Misinformation campaigns resulted in a resistance to restrictions and safety guidelines at the height of the pandemic.

Although around 77 per cent of New Yorkers have received one dose of the vaccine, the rate is only 51 percent in Borough Park in Brooklyn and 59 per cent in South Williamsburg.

Both areas are home to both large Orthodox and Hasidic communities.

Earlier this year, parents at the posh $57,000-a-year all-girls Spence School in Manhattan’s Upper East Side neighborhood started a letter-writing campaign to demand the academy take a ‘step backward’ from its woke agenda. 

A mother involved with the letter-writing campaign revealed how students at the all-girls school were shown a video mocking ‘annoying’ and ‘entitled’ white women.

Earlier this year a parent at another all-girls school, The Brearley, wrote to other parents complaining about the teaching of Critical Race Theory – the questioning of America’s history and society, emphasizing the role that slavery played in the nation’s founding.

 Supporters of CRT argue it is a long-overdue rebalancing of the curriculum: detractors say it divides children by skin color, and tells white children to feel guilty for their skin.

A teacher at another school, Grace School, even resigned in protest at the teaching of CRT.

Republicans have seized on the row, citing it as an example of the dangers of ‘woke’ philosophies pressed on young minds.


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