NYC Says 95% of School Staff Is Vaccinated Following Mandate
(Bloomberg) -- New York City said 95% of teachers and other school staff got Covid-19 shots ahead of a mandate that went into effect on Monday, with 18,000 vaccine doses administered over the weekend.
Thousands of the city’s 148,000 education workers who haven’t gotten vaccinated were barred from entering schools and were placed on unpaid leave. Schools chancellor Meisha Ross Porter said she doesn’t yet have the exact number of people put on leave. She said the school system had enough substitute workers for now but urged unvaccinated education employees to go out and get the vaccine.
“To those who haven’t yet been vaccinated, it’s not too late,” Porter said during a Monday briefing. “You are more than welcome to come back to work, our students need you. Our parents need you.”
Enforcement of the vaccine requirement is the latest step in the reopening of the largest U.S. school system. Hurdles for the district may be a preview for other schools and employers as they move to impose mandates on workers, a point Mayor Bill de Blasio drove home on Monday.
“Put these mandates in place,” he said, addressing mayors and governors around the country. “They work. Do it now.”
The share of New York City teachers who have met the mandate rose to 96% from 93% on Friday, and the percentage of principals who have gotten at least one shot increased to 99% from 98%, de Blasio said.
United Federation of Teachers president Michael Mulgrew criticized the implementation of the mandate in a separate briefing Monday and called the last few weeks “chaotic.” He said it would have been smart for the city to impose the requirement earlier during the summer to allow schools and workers enough time to prepare.
“To have to have this additional challenge of staffing and all of that within the first month of the school year, it’s not the right way to do this,” Mulgrew said.
The schools vaccine mandate had been delayed after a group of employees brought legal action to try and block the vaccine mandate, citing the risk of losing their jobs. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor on Friday denied the emergency request to block the requirement.
The court has given state and local governments leeway to adopt Covid-19 measures, except when they affect religious worship. In August, Justice Amy Coney Barrett turned away a challenge to Indiana University’s requirement that all students be vaccinated unless they have a religious or medical exemption.
De Blasio said the city was encouraged by the mandate’s effectiveness and would consider further vaccine requirements for other city agencies. He said the number of vaccinations in the city jumped by 45% since July, when the city’s first mandates were announced.
“These mandates work, and we’re going to consider in the days ahead what else makes sense to do,” he said.
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