New York City teachers and school staff were supposed to be vaccinated against the coronavirus by Monday in one of the nation’s first school district vaccine mandates.
Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) issued a warning to his city’s approximately 148,000 public school workers Friday, noting unvaccinated workers would be put on unpaid leave and not allowed to go to work this week, the Associated Press (AP) reported.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks during a faith vigil for victims of an earthquake in Haiti at the steps of St. Jerome’s Roman Catholic Church on August 16, 2021 in the Little Caribbean neighborhood of Brooklyn borough in New York City. (Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)
“The city planned to bring in substitutes where needed,” the outlet continued:
The mandate spurred many teachers to get vaccinated as the deadline approached. United Federation of Teachers president Michael Mulgrew said 97% 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% of teachers had received at least one shot. The mayor said Friday that 90% of all Department of Education employees had received at least one vaccine dose, including 98% of principals.
However, implementing the mandate posed a challenge for de Blasio, who “has boasted of the city’s record of keeping school buildings open during most of the last school year when other districts went to all-remote instruction,” the AP article said.
New York City did not plan to offer a remote learning option this school year.
People gather at City Hall to protest vaccine mandates on August 09, 2021 in New York City. NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio announced last week that as of August 16th proof of coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination will be required to attend indoor restaurants, gyms, and entertainment venues with enforcement of the mandate to begin on September 13th. (Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)
The mandate was scheduled to take effect last week but experienced a delay when a federal appeals court granted a temporary injunction. However, an appeals panel reversed the decision a few days later, according to the AP.
De Blasio announced last month students will be subjected to weekly coronavirus testing, saying it would begin September 27.
“We will now go to weekly testing. We’ll be testing in elementary, middle, and high school each school every week,” de Blasio explained. “That will allow more kids to safely remain in the classrooms.”
In a social media post Monday, de Blasio said 95 percent of full-time New York City School staff members were vaccinated against the coronavirus:
THIS JUST IN: 95% of our full-time @NYCSchools staff is vaccinated against #COVID19, and our city will surpass 11.5 million doses today. Join us at City Hall. https://t.co/e6e5fXaseB
— Mayor Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) October 4, 2021
Meanwhile, some educators expressed reservations about the mandate but decided to comply.
Roxanne Rizzi, a technology teacher for an elementary school in Queens, put it off getting the first vaccine shot until Friday.
“I had to do it for the finances of my family,” she told the AP.
Rizzi initially resisted taking the vaccine because she contracted the virus in November and relied on natural immunity for protection. She told the outlet she would keep protesting the mandate.