Thursday, October 28, 2021

COVID vaccine mandate for New York City teachers and staff takes effect

NEW YORK (AP) – New York City teachers and other school staff members should be vaccinated against COVID-19 when the bell rings Monday morning, one of the first school districts in the country to vaccinate staff against the coronavirus. is needed. .

Mayor Bill de Blasio issued a final warning to the city’s nearly 148,000 public school workers on Friday, saying unvaccinated workers would be put on unpaid leave and not allowed to work this week. The city planned to bring alternatives where needed.

As the deadline drew near, the mandate prompted many teachers to get vaccinated. Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers, said 97 percent of his union’s members had received at least one vaccine dose as of Monday morning.

That’s up from Friday, when de Blasio said 93 percent of teachers had received at least one shot. The mayor said Friday that 90 percent of all education department employees have received at least one vaccine dose, including 98 percent of the principal.

Smoothly implementing the mandate would be a test for de Blasio, a Democrat who has claimed the city’s record of keeping school buildings open during the last school year, when other districts all went remote instruction. New York City isn’t offering a remote option this year.

The vaccination mandate in the nation’s largest school system does not include a trial-out option, but allows medical and religious exemptions. It was supposed to go into effect last week, but was delayed when a federal appeals court granted a temporary injunction. An appeals panel reversed that decision three days later.

A similar mandate is set to go into effect in Los Angeles from October 15.

Mark Cannizzaro, president of the Council of Schools Supervisors and Administrators, said that despite an increase in vaccinations last week, some principals were having difficulty finding enough staff to replace unvaccinated workers.

“While we are grateful that the percentage of immunization staff has increased into the system since the deadline was extended, there are still too many school leaders who are unable to find qualified substitutes for Monday,” Cannizzaro said.

A group of teachers and other school workers who sued over the school vaccine mandate asked the US Supreme Court on Thursday to halt the implementation of an emergency injunction. The request was denied on Friday.

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Many students and parents support the vaccine mandate as the best way to keep schools open during the pandemic.

“It’s safe for our kids,” said 28-year-old Joyce Ramirez, who was picking up her three children from Bronx elementary school last week.

Ramirez said he hopes the requirement will make teachers less likely to contract the virus and close classes or schools.

Cody Miller, a 15-year-old student at a high school in Manhattan, said all teachers should be vaccinated. “I think they should,” said Kishor, who vaccinated himself as soon as the Pfizer shot was approved for people 12 years and older. “There are so many kids, it’s a big environment, you know?”

But another parent from the Bronx, Malia Diroche, had mixed feelings. “I feel like it’s a decision they should be able to make on their own,” said the mother of three boys between 3 and 12. Diroche, 29, said he thinks masks and other precautions can stop the spread of the virus. School.

Some teachers have objections about the mandate but they are complying.

Maurice Jones, 46, a support staff member at Manhattan Middle School, said she was vaccinated months ago, but she sympathizes with coworkers who haven’t gotten the shot. “If they want to get more tests, they’ll have to get more tests,” Jones said. “I don’t think he should lose his job.”

Roxanne Rizzi, who teaches technology at an elementary school in Queens, waited until Friday to get her first coronavirus vaccine shot.

“I had to do it to finance my family,” she said.

Rizzi, 55, had opposed the vaccine because he contracted COVID-19 in November and believed that natural immunity would protect him. She said she would continue to oppose the mandate.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people should get vaccinated even if they have already been infected with the virus. The agency says COVID-19 vaccines provide better protection than natural immunity and help prevent reinfection.

Associated Press writer Jennifer Peltz contributed.

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