With New York City public schools set to reopen on Monday, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a new vaccine mandate for students 12 and up who participate in '”higher risk”' extra-curricular activities like chorus, band, musical theater, cheerleading, and step. 

De Blasio said these are activities “where folks are close together, lots of exhaling,” he said. 

“To the parents, do us all the favor, do the right thing,” he said during his Friday appearance on The Brian Lehrer Show.

The mandate only applies to extra-curricular activities, not in-school courses. An education department spokesperson said the distinction aligns with state guidance which requires that high-risk extra-curriculars be canceled if participants are not vaccinated. 

The city had already required eligible student athletes in the Public School Athletic League (PSAL) to get vaccinated

De Blasio has emphasized an ongoing campaign to get eligible students vaccinated in the run-up to school. He said 66% of the city’s 12-17 year-olds have already gotten at least one shot. “So we’re well along,” he said. 

Public schools serving middle and high school students will be offering vaccinations onsite next week, and then again in early October so students can get a second dose. The city also has a site for students and their families—vaccine.schools.nyc—to sign-up for the shots and upload their vaccination status.

All public school educators are required to be inoculated by 9/27, although the unions are still negotiating with the city over exemptions and the consequences for those who refuse. Based on data from the mayor’s office, about 25% of teachers have yet to be vaccinated as of this week.

The announcement comes after the Los Angeles Unified School District, which has about 600,000 students, announced a much broader mandate, requiring all public school students other than 12 be vaccinated by December 31, 2021. 

De Blasio said, at this point, he does not plan to mandate vaccines for public school students across the board. 

“We’re not there yet,” he said, adding that he did not want to add obstacles to students returning to classrooms.