NYC teacher from Long Island didn't get vaccine. He’s now on ‘leave without pay’
A Bronx teacher from Long Island is out of a job because he refused to get vaccinated against COVID-19 ahead of the city’s vaccine mandate.
Tom Wiermann, of Port Jefferson Station, has been a physical education and health teacher at M.S. 101 in the Bronx for the past 20 years. He says he loves his job.
“I love sports, fitness and everything that comes along with that,” he told News 12. “Unfortunately, that passion has been ripped from me.”
On Saturday, he received an email from the city’s Department of Education informing him that he was put on "leave without pay" because he chose not to get vaccinated.
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“I was angry because it's not science-based. You can be a vaccinated teacher or a student who has COVID and you can still come to school as long as you don't show any signs or symptoms. Where is the science in that?” he says.
He continued: “If they were keeping people safe, why would they allow people with active COVID to come the school. It makes no sense.”
He says he's not alone. There are thousands of teachers and health care workers who are not in compliance with state’s vaccine mandate. Even though his teachers' union was able to secure his medical benefits, he can't apply for unemployment or another job.
“I was not given that choice. It was either take it or lose your livelihood. I wasn't going to give into that though,” says Wiermann.
As of Friday about 90% of DOE employees had been vaccinated. The agency says it has 9,000 vaccinated substitute teachers who will step in for any staffing shortages related to the mandate.
Late on Friday, the U.S. death toll from the pandemic reached 700,000. An infectious disease epidemiologist told the Associated Press that at least 70,000 of the last 100,000 deaths were in unvaccinated people.