New York city teachers, schools staff asked to get vaccinated or stay home on unpaid leave

Teachers and other school employees taken to the US Supreme court over the school vaccine mandate asked it to intervene and halt the implementation. The request was denied
Image for representational image| Pic: PTI
Image for representational image| Pic: PTI

New York City teachers and other school staff would be placed on unpaid leave and not be allowed to work from October 4 if they remain unvaccinated. Mayor Bill de Blasio gave a final warning to the city's roughly 148,000 public school staffers on October 1. This is one of the first school district mandates in the country requiring employees to be inoculated against the Coronavirus. The mandate in the nation's largest school system does not include a test-out option. It will be interesting in coming days to see how the mandate pans out on ground as, ironically, it allows religious exemptions apart from medical exemptions.

The city planned to bring in substitutes where needed. It is not offering a remote option this year. De Blasio added that 90 per cent of Department of Education employees had received at least one vaccine dose, including 93 per cent of teachers and 98 per cent of principals, as of late last week. Mark Cannizzaro, president of the Council of Schools Supervisors and Administrators, said that despite a surge in vaccinations last week, some principals can't find enough staff to replace unvaccinated workers.

“While we're thankful that the percentage of vaccinated staff has increased systemwide since the deadline was extended, there are still too many school leaders that have been unable to find qualified substitutes for Monday,” Cannizzaro said. A spokesperson for the United Federation of Teachers said the city “needs to work hard to make sure enough vaccinated personnel are in place to safely open the schools Monday morning.” 

Teachers and other school employees who had sued over the school vaccine mandate asked the US Supreme Court on Thursday for an emergency injunction blocking its implementation. The request was denied on Friday. Many students and parents support the vaccine mandate as the best way to keep schools open during the pandemic. “It's safer for our kids,” said Joyce Ramirez, 28, who was picking her three children up from a Bronx elementary school last week. Ramirez said she hopes the requirement will lessen the chances of teachers contracting the virus and prompting classroom or school shutdowns.

Cody Miller, a 15-year-old sophomore at a high school in Manhattan, said teachers should all be vaccinated. “I think they should,” said the teen, who got vaccinated himself as soon as the Pfizer shot was approved for people 12 and up. “It's so many kids, it's a big environment, you know?” According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people should get vaccinated even if they have already been infected by the virus. The agency says COVID-19 vaccines offer better protection than natural immunity and help prevent getting infected again.

With inputs from Associated Press
​Edited by Eshan Kalyanikar

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