NYC public school teachers, staff required to get vaccinated against COVID-19
Students are not the only ones navigating new safety measures as the year gets underway - but also the teachers and staff supervising them.
Almost three weeks ago, the city announced all public school teachers and staff would be mandated to get, at least, their first shot of the COVID vaccine by Sept. 27 with no option to get tested.
As things stand on the first day, the Department of Education says over 74% of its 148,000 employees have been vaccinated. So, what happens to the other quarter that hasn't?
The city had originally said that they would be removed from the payroll, but just this past Friday, an arbitrator ruled that teachers with religious or medical exemptions cannot be fired, and instead, need to be given non-classroom assignments.
So now, teachers have until next Monday, Sept. 20, to apply for those exemptions. United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew says that the city will have a "leave process and severance agreement for other teachers who feel they cannot comply with the vaccination mandate."
But things are not going smoothly there either. The teachers union says that a massive number of medical accommodation requests were denied last week and that they are preparing to take legal action.
As of now, those unvaccinated staff members who don't get an exemption will either be allowed to resign by Nov. 30, or take a leave without pay until Labor Day of 2022.
News 12 was at P.S. 25 Bilingual School in Melrose Monday morning where Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Meisha Ross greeted students.
De Blasio promised that all staff in buildings will eventually be vaccinated. One teacher said that while there's been some frustration with the mandate, most are putting their own feelings aside.
"People that didn't want to, now that they have to, they going for it, because our priorities will always be the children," said Yania Minaya, a fourth grade teacher.