Hochul on school vaccine mandate: ‘I don’t have the ability’, but is working toward it

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC)— Gov. Kathy Hochul Wednesday clarified where she stands in terms of mandating vaccines for all school staff, and at the moment, she does not have the power.

In an interview on MSNBC’s "Morning Joe", Hochul said the state legislature did not give her the executive powers necessary to make the move. Former Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s powers expired when New York’s state of emergency expired in June.

"So I can’t mandate that right now, but I also plan on working," Hochul said. "I am working already with everyone who’s involved to see if we can get to the same outcome."

Hochul Tuesday said the mandate would include the option of either getting the vaccine, or face weekly testing "for now." She made vaccination a goal as part of her first day in office, where she introduced several measures including immediately directing the New York State Department of Health to require universal masking in New York’s schools.

The proposed guidance is causing some frustration in at least one local district.

New York City already implemented a vaccine requirement of its own, but does not give the option of weekly testing. The Rochester City School District announced its teachers and staff will have to be vaccinated for COVID-19, or face weekly testing come the fall.

Local school leaders previously said they had no plans to implement a vaccine mandate, at least for students.

In a separate interview on CBS This Morning, Hochul says she’s working closely with superintendents and school boards to get those vaccine mandates in place. She told reporters Tuesday more guidance would be "coming soon."