NEW YORK — As enforcement of New York City’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for teachers and staff begins Monday, the head of the teachers’ union said their priority is safety in the classroom.
United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew was happy to report Monday that more than 97% of New York City teachers are now vaccinated and at work.
About 1,000 received their first shot over the weekend, and about another 1,000 received an exemption, largely for medical reasons — less than 4,000 teachers remain unvaccinated.
Mulgrew said he is concerned about a lack of school safety officers as well as staffing issues in District 75 in Staten Island.
The mayor had said school safety agents may need to work overtime — a suggestion that the head of the union criticized.
While Mulgrew praised teachers and rose to meet yet another COVID challenge and help bring students back to class, he and National AFT President Randi Weingarten criticized the city and Mayor Bill de Blasio for not being a better partner.
A DOE spokesperson also said last week 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.
The enforcement deadline comes after Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor denied a request from a group of teachers to block the mandate on Friday.
If an unvaccinated teacher has a change of heart and gets the vaccine Monday, the union said they can come back to work on Tuesday.