NEW YORK — Enforcement of New York City’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for teachers and staff begins Monday, along with the possibility that thousands of Department of Education employees could be suspended without pay for failure to get vaccinated.
On Friday, Mayor Bill de Blasio said 90% of all DOE staff had met the city’s requirement of receiving at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, including 93% of teachers and 98% of principals.
“We already have what we need to run the school system well and serve our kids in a safe way, but I know these numbers are going to go up in the next 24 hours, for sure,” the mayor had said on Friday.
A DOE spokesperson also said the city has 9,000 vaccinated substitute teachers, 5,000 vaccinated substitute paraprofessionals, and qualified Central staff it can deploy to fill gaps left by unvaccinated workers.
However, the city could be faced with staffing shortages in other operational capacities, such as school safety agents and food-service workers.
De Blasio had said school safety agents may need to work overtime — a suggestion that the head of the union criticized.
The enforcement deadline comes after Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor denied a request from a group of teachers to block the mandate on Friday.
Teacher Rachel Maniscalco is among those holding out and refusing to get vaccinated. Some teachers anticipate chaos in classrooms on Monday.
“I guess we’re going to have to wait and see what happens this week,” Maniscalco said. “We are still hopeful that the mayor and the chancellor and the Department of Education will turn around and say, ‘you know what,we’re going to bring back the testing option.'”
That’s currently not the plan. City Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi said there’s no denying the effectiveness of the new vaccine mandate for Department Education employees. He did not rule out a future vaccine mandate for students.
“We have had some requirements for students, particularly for students who want to participate in high risk sports or other extra curricular activities,” he said. “We’ll see if additional requirements are needed.”
The DOE did not immediately respond to PIX11’s request for updated vaccine data on Sunday.