TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Gov. Phil Murphy signed an executive order Monday requiring all school staff to get vaccinated or submit to weekly testing. The order also applies to state workers.

As CBS2’s Meg Baker reports, Murphy says he is taking these steps to keep students, teachers and staff healthy, and school in session full time after more than a year of interruptions caused by the pandemic.

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“All preschool through grade 12 school personnel to be fully vaccinated by October 18th and if they’re not, to submit to, at a minimum, one to two tests per week,” Murphy said.

The message from Murphy – we will protect our unvaccinated children at all costs, requiring masks for students and staff, and now vaccines.

“Yet some continue to mistakenly and dangerously grasp at the lie that kids can’t get COVID, or that they can’t spread COVID. Neither of that is true,” Murphy said.

WATCH: Gov. Phil Murphy Announces Vaccine Or Testing Requirement For School Staff, State Workers

The number of children in hospitals across the country because of COVID tripled in just four weeks, hitting a daily average of more than 1,200 kids hospitalized.

Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli says it’s a race against time with the extremely contagious Delta variant.

“A layered approach of preventive measures is best to protect students and staff. And that includes masking, physical distancing, testing and staying home when you’re sick,” Persichilli said.

COVID VACCINE

Sean Spiller, incoming president of the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) says the union fully supports the decision.

“All indications are this is the best way to make sure we have in-person instruction, which we know is the best way to educate our kids, but that it can be done in a manner that’s safe for everyone, students and staff,” Spiller said.

The majority of people Baker spoke to appreciated the extra measure to protect our youngest.

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“I’m already vaccinated, so I think the adults will protect the children,” said parent and teacher Lorie Wood.

“I think it’s a good idea,” said Karen Giacobbe of Wall Township.

Others disagreed.

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“I think people should have their own right to be vaccinated. Their choice, it’s not the government’s choice, it’s not Murphy’s choice. It’s the people’s choice,” said Monmouth County resident Sharon Ennes.

“Do you have children?” Baker asked.

“No,” Ennes said.

CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

The deadline for school personal to get vaccinated is Oct. 18. The school year starts in two weeks.

Murphy says the state will offer funding to municipalities for COVID testing and setting up vaccination sites that are conveniently near schools.

The governor’s announcement came hours after New York City said school staff must be vaccinated by Sept. 27, with no testing option.

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CBS2’s Meg Baker contributed to this report.

CBSNewYork Team