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Hochul lists top priorities on first day as New York governor

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ALBANY, N.Y. (UPDATED) -- Addressing New Yorkers on her first day as governor Tuesday, Kathy Hochul says she plans to mandate vaccines or weekly testing for teachers and school staff across the state.

She also plans to require universal masking for anyone entering schools. 

"As Governor, my priorities are now the priorities of the people of New York - and right now that means fighting the Delta variant," Hochul said. "My number one priority is getting children back to school and protecting the environment so they can learn safely. I am immediately directing the Department of Health to institute universal masking for anyone entering our schools, and we are launching a Back to School COVID-19 testing program to make testing for students and staff widely available and convenient. We are also working to require vaccinations for all school personnel with an option to test out weekly, and we are going to accomplish all of this by working in partnership with all levels of government."

Hochul plans to use $335 million in federal funding to support free testing for students, in partnership with local health departments and BOCES. The testing will be voluntary.

She said more details on school requirements will be released later this week.

While school guidance is at the top of Hochul’s list of priorities, she said she also plans to focus on expediting booster availability and getting rental assistance to struggling residents.

“These are the highest priorities of my administration in its first days: combatting Delta, getting direct aid to New Yorkers more quickly and beginning to change the culture in Albany,” she said.

Following the allegations against former Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Hochul said she will make transparency paramount in her administration, and require that all state workers undergo ethics training.

Hochul became the state’s first female governor at midnight Tuesday following Cuomo’s resignation.

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