95% of New York School Staff Received COVID Vaccine as Mandate Goes into Force

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New York City’s vaccination mandate for more than 150,000 education workers went into effect Monday morning, demanding that those who did not have at least one dose be placed on unpaid leave.

The threat of losing their pay seemed like a big incentive for staff members to get vaccinated. As of Monday, 95% of education department workers had received at least one dose, including 96% of teachers and 99% of principals, Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Monday. About 43,000 education staff received a dose of the vaccine after the mandate was announced on 23 August.

This left about 7,400 employees unvaccinated, including about 3,100 teachers. Unvaccinated educators will continue to have health insurance and will be allowed to return to their schools if they receive a first dose of the vaccine. About 1,000 educators have received medical or religious accommodations, according to a spokesperson for the teachers’ union.

Vaccination rates were significantly lower for school security officers: 84% received at least one dose, de Blasio said.

“All adults in our schools are now vaccinated and this will be the rule in the future,” said de Blasio. “This is the way to keep children and the entire school community safe. “

The country’s largest school system is among the first wave of districts to issue such a warrant. Although implementation has been delayed by a week due to multiple court challenges from a group of educators and unions representing school staff, these challenges have so far failed.

In the days leading up to the mandate’s entry into force, school leaders and union officials raised concerns that even a relatively small percentage of staff who refuse the vaccine could cause significant disruption. Although many schools have vaccination rates close to 100%, union leaders warned others would likely face staff shortages, forcing principals to scramble to cover classrooms by calling in staff. substitutes, central office staff or other school employees such as counselors who are not usually working. in classrooms.

City officials have insisted that the pool of vaccinated substitute teachers exceeds the number of unvaccinated teachers. But a sign the education department may be concerned about potential shortages: An email sent to substitute teachers over the weekend said they could earn a $ 50 a day bonus for landing jobs open, in addition to the daily rate of $ 199.27 that they typically earn.

The city’s teachers’ union also alerted its members that it had negotiated procedures to fill positions left vacant by unvaccinated staff, including “emergency blanket” to replace teachers with counselors, workers. social, psychologists. The union said transferring students whose teachers have gone on unpaid leave to other classrooms should only be used as a last resort.

City officials hope the warrant will help reduce the risk of transmission of the virus and the disruption that comes with it, as the most contagious delta variant continues to circulate as many classrooms regain their full capacity being given that there is no longer an option to learn virtually and the rules of social distancing have been relaxed.

Since the district schools reopened on September 13, more than 2,300 students out of about 1 million have tested positive, as have 943 staff members out of tens of thousands of employees. These infections have resulted in approximately 2,500 full or partial classroom closures in approximately 65,000 classrooms.

It’s a story of rupture. Please check for updates.

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