LOWER MANHATTAN – Hundreds of people packed Foley Square and for over 3 hours, they rallied in solidarity, speaking out against the city’s vaccine mandate for school staffers.
The rally was organized by Teachers for Choice, the group is angered they have to get vaccinated in order to keep their jobs.
It was a strong showing of school staffers, parents and a mix of both current and retired teachers. Speaker after speaker took to the podium. They were loud, they were vocal. Those who didn’t speak held signs that said things like “My body, my choice” and “I am not property of the state.”
Bill and Amy Carroll are retired teachers.
“I have lived and worked in this city as a civil servant for 28 years of my life,” said Amy. “I should be able to make my own health decisions and make a decision that doesn’t affect my employment that doesn’t affect my right to go to a restaurant, or a Broadway play, a museum.”
Her husband Bill, echoed her sentiments.
“I think what they’re doing in America, they’re taking away our rights about all decisions, medical decisions, we’re standing here we’re letting the government take over everything.”
Wade Willett, a recently retired science teacher, said he neither trusts the vaccines nor government officials.
“I submitted my retirement on August 8 because of de Blasio,” said Willett. “I had COVID in March of 2020 and I recovered from it, so I felt I’m immune, I’m a science teacher and they said you’re not.”
A primary target of their anger has been Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Last month, the mayor announced all Department of Education employees must receive at least one dose of a COVID vaccine by Sept 27. This applies to all 148,000 DOE staffers in city school buildings.
Some teachers tried to make the point Monday getting vaccinated is a personal choice and they shouldn’t be forced into it.
“I came with a bunch of teachers from a school in Whitestone, Queens,” said educator Alycia Morell. “We’re here because of the mandates, some of us are even vaccinated, but we’re fighting the mandate and we don’t want the children to have to be mandated for vaccines — so we’re fighting for everybody not just ourselves.”
The United Federation of Teachers Union came to a resolution with the city that teachers with medical and religious exemptions can request an alternative work assignment.
Teachers for Choice say they will file a lawsuit this week against the city over the vaccine mandate.