Teachers rally at a demonstration against COVID-19 vaccination mandates in August. Mary Altaffer/AP
In an 11th-hour twist, the city’s teacher and principal unions have called on Mayor Bill de Blasio to scrap Monday’s deadline for Department of Education staffers to get vaccinated for COVID-19 over staffing concerns.
With more than 28,000 DOE employees still not having taken the shot and facing ineligibility for classroom work, both organizations warned of dire staff shortages in a matter of days — despite several assurances from City Hall that they have contingency plans in place if needed.
“It is dangerous and irresponsible for the city to move forward with its plan to allow schools and centers to operate so severely understaffed,” wrote Council of School Supervisors and Administrators President Mark Cannizzaro in a late Thursday release.
The United Federation of Teachers echoed that alarm soon after.
“The principals’ union is right — our schools are not ready for the implementation of the vaccine mandate,” said union chief Michael Mulgrew. “I hope for once City Hall is listening to its own school leaders and finally starts to put together a reasonable plan to face the challenge of keeping our children safe.”
The UFT and Council of School Supervisors and Administrators have pushed back against the NYC vaccine policy.
Currently, DOE staffers who do not receive a medical or religious accommodation and aren’t vaccinated by Monday must either take a year of unpaid leave with health benefits or exit the DOE with severance pay.
As of Wednesday, the DOE said 87 percent of the city’s 78,000 teachers had been vaccinated, leaving roughly 10,140 who have declined a dose thus far.
Overall, only 80 percent of all 130,000 DOE employees — including food service and custodial staff workers — have gotten the shot.
Mark Cannizzaro said the policy wouldn’t be prudent given the city’s staffing issues.
For weeks, both de Blasio and schools Chancellor Meisha Ross-Porter have insisted that vaccinated substitutes and new hires could replace any staffers forced from city schools.
But Cannizzaro flatly rejected that portrayal Thursday.
“Despite our repeated warnings, the city is ill prepared for the impact of the vaccination mandate on staffing in schools and early childhood centers with just four days to go before it takes effect,” he said. “As a result, we are calling on the city to delay the deadline for the mandate to allow the city to develop a reasonable contingency plan.”
In pushing for the vaccine mandate, de Blasio argued that it would safeguard against COVID-19 outbreaks in city schools and curb classroom and school closures.
Both unions have also consistently encouraged all their members to get the vaccine.Internet Explorer Channel Network