Albany ends religious exemptions for vaccinations of schoolchildren (updated)

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On June 13th, the NYS legislature passed a bill (A.02371A/S.02994-A) eliminating religious exemptions for vaccines. Governor Cuomo signed the bill into law that night.  The next morning, our phones began ringing with questions from many of our clients.  

This new law became effective immediately and applies to public, private, and parochial schools. However, this does not mean that a child who had a valid religious exemption on June 13th cannot go to school today.

The law gives parents 14 days to provide proper documentation to schools or to demonstrate that their child has received the first doses of all required vaccines for their age. Parents have 30 days to demonstrate that they have appointments scheduled for the remainder of all required doses.

This means that children who have lost their religious exemption status, and who are attending school right now, must receive the first dose of age-appropriate vaccinations in each series by June 28th in order to keep attending school. Parents must also show that they have appointments scheduled to receive the remainder of the required doses by July 14th.

New York State follows the Center for Disease Control’s guidance for vaccine requirements. See: Recommended Child and Adolescent Immunization Schedule for ages 18 years or younger

We want to reassure the parents of children who have a medical exemption that this new law does not impact those exemptions. Parents may download a form for requesting medical exemptions from vaccines from the NYC Department of Education’s website. The form must be filled out by your child’s treating physician. In our experience medical exemptions are generally reserved for very ill, immunocompromised children, such as those who are receiving chemotherapy treatments. Autism and developmental disability, food allergies (including egg allergies), contact with immunocompromised or pregnant persons, or other family history will not result in a medical exemption.

Albany ends religious exemptions for vaccinations of schoolchildren—medical exemption rules are unchanged

AdobeStock_138566941.jpeg

Last night, the NYS legislature passed a bill (A.02371A/S.02994-A) eliminating religious exemptions for vaccines. Governor Cuomo has signed the bill into law.  This morning, our phones have been ringing and questions are coming in from many of our clients.  

This new law is effective immediately and applies to both public and private schools. However, this does not mean that a child who had a valid religious exemption yesterday cannot go to school today or tomorrow. Parents are given 14 days to provide proper documentation to schools. A principal can extend this grace period to 30 days if a parent can provide documentation that the child has received the first dose of all required vaccines and has appointments to receive the remainder of the vaccination protocol.

Most importantly, we want to reassure the parents of children who have a medical exemption that this new law does not impact those exemptions. Parents may download a form for requesting medical exemptions from vaccines from the NYC Department of Education’s website. The form must be filled out by your child’s treating physician. In our experience medical exemptions are generally reserved for very ill, immunocompromised children, such as those who are receiving chemotherapy treatments. Autism and developmental disability, food allergies (including egg allergies), contact with immunocompromised or pregnant persons, or other family history will not result in a medical exemption.

New in 2019: Paperless Retainers

By now, most Skyer Law client families should have received an email asking you to review and electronically sign your 2019-20 retainers. (If you haven’t, it’s coming soon!) This year, we are moving from paper to electronic retainers to reduce waste and more efficiently serve our clients.

Some of our clients have contacted us with issues signing their retainer.  If your name is not at the bottom of the document where you are supposed to sign, or if you only see the second parent’s name, simply click on the blank and type yours in or click on the other person’s name, delete it, and type yours in.

As long as you use your unique link, it will all be merged properly in the final signed document. 

We apologize for the technical glitches as we adopt this new paperless system. Please email Ben Foley in our office if you have further questions.

Upcoming Event: Autism Advocacy Panel at Shrub Oak International School 4/16

Shrub Oak International School is hosting a panel discussion about the educational and legal rights of individuals with special needs as part of their ongoing professional series on special education issues. Shrub Oak has assembled an impressive selection of top New York special education attorneys, including Skyer Law partner Greg Cangiano.

The event is being held on Tuesday, April 16th from 7:00pm-8:30pm and includes an informal reception with light refreshments and a Q&A.

Shrub Oak International School is located in Mohegan Lake, NY. RSVP to events@shruboak.org or call (914) 885-0110, ext. 739, for more information. 

Upcoming Events: Two Turning 5 Talks + JCC School Fair Moves to Spring!

Upcoming events for special needs parents:

Turning 5: Understanding the Special Education Kindergarten Transition Process

Wed, March 13, 6:30-7:45 pm
Parents League, 115 East 82nd Street, New York, NY 10028

This workshop is being presented as part of a special education series at the Parents League office in Manhattan. Registration required. Parents League members enjoy free admission; non-member admission is $35.

Speakers: Diana Gersten and Greg Cangiano

For NYC parents of preschool-aged children who have special education needs, transitioning to kindergarten can be overwhelming. The experienced team of attorneys at Skyer Law have guided thousands of clients through this stressful “turning 5” process. Founding partner, Regina Skyer, literally wrote the book on How to Survive Turning 5. This workshop will explain your legal rights, placement options, and share strategies on how to successfully position yourselves for an appropriate kindergarten placement.


JCC/NYL Special Needs School Fair

Mon, Apr 15, 5:30-7:30 pm, Free
JCC Manhattan
334 AMSTERDAM AVE AT 76TH ST, NEW YORK, NY 10023

The annual Special Needs School Fair is moving to the spring! Each year, the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan and NYL Lifestart partner to present the fair. Representatives from preschools through high schools serving the New York City special needs community come together on-site at the JCC to provide information and answers to your questions about the application process, class profiles, tuition costs, and more. School materials are available.

Click here for more information and to register.


Kindergarten and Special Education Part Two: Understanding Your Child’s Legal Rights

Thurs, May 2, 6:30-8:30 pm, Free
Brooklyn Conservatory of Music Concert Hall
58 Seventh Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11217

This workshop is being offered as part of a two-part series by Music Therapy Parent Talks at the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music. Part one is being presented by special education advocate Sarah Birnbaum on April 18th. This is a free event, but registration is appreciated.

Speakers: Abbie Smith and Greg Cangiano

If your child may need special education services in kindergarten, understanding your legal rights is crucial. Skyer Law partners Greg Cangiano and Abbie Smith will provide a foundation for understanding your child’s rights, the educational options that exist in NYC for students with disabilities, and how to navigate the process successfully.