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New York City Teachers, Parents Voice Concerns About Changing School COVID Safety Protocols

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Gov. Kathy Hochul said Tuesday time is up for parents who are still worried about getting their kids vaccinated against the coronavirus.

Hochul believes there are no more reasons to be concerned and, if they're eligible, the kids should get a shot as soon as possible.

She's deploying a fleet of helpers to make it even easier.

"We are here for one reason. One reason: To protect our children," Hochul said.

Hochul pressured parents Tuesday, saying she doesn't comprehend why many are still reluctant to get their kids vaccinated.


"It's like putting your kid in car on a busy highway without a seatbelt, a young, inexperienced driver, and saying, 'Good luck,'" she said.

So the new governor announced 120 pop-up vaccination sites with mobile vans over 12 weeks across New York, as part of its "Vax To School" campaign. She's looking to increase vaccination rates among 12-17-year-olds.

"Our numbers for this age group is about 54% statewide," she said.

This comes as Pfizer announced its vaccine is safe at lower doses for children ages 5-11. It could get emergency use authorization by the end of October, something the governor and many parents are looking forward to.

"Vaccination has saved lives," said Chandika Sanehi of East Flatbush.

Sanehi says he will get his 9-year-old daughter vaccinated as soon as she's allowed.

"You don't want to spread of the COVID to continue on the way that it is now," he said.


Since the first day of school last week in New York City, nearly 600 students have tested positive for COVID, along with 384 teachers. One woman says her granddaughter is already home quarantining after a classmate tested positive.

"I'm scared right now, because she has to be tested tomorrow," she said.

Photos are now surfacing on social media showing crowded New York City schools. Parents say they know it's a gamble every day.

"We take the chance as parents and send them to school, but it's obviously a concern," parent Ronald Balu said.

Monday, Mayor Bill de Blasio changed COVID protocols. Beginning next week, schools will test once a week, and if there is a positive test in a classroom they will allow unvaccinated students to remain if they wore a mask and maintained distance.

Tuesday, de Blasio defended his choice.

"Getting our kids back in school is most important. Unless there is a reason to have them out," de Blasio said.

Hochul says she is watching to see what happens with de Blasio's new plan first, then she will act if she has to. As for a vaccine mandate in schools, she says only time will tell - but nothing is off the table.

For more information on the new pop-up sites, and to see if they're coming to your community, CLICK HERE.

Some teachers say the rules are too reactionary and will not keep things safe, while some parents say it's already hard for them to check in on the existing ones.

Manhattan teacher Aixa Rodriguez told CBS2 her middle school classrooms are just too small to spread out her kids.

"The reality is, our classrooms are full of furniture. Even with all the stuff we dumped and put away. We still don't have enough space," Rodriguez said.

She said new changes could add to the problem.

"There seems to be a lot of holes in all of the policies that are coming out, even with revisions," she said.

"You can only test those students who return their consent forms," said City Council member Mark Treyger, chair of the education committee. "He needs to scrap his bogus testing program and require testing in schools."

"They seem OK, but it's a little difficult too, because we're not allowed in the schools to be able to see what's going on firsthand," Harlem parent Eric McLendon said.

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