90% of DOE staff now vaccinated against COVID-19, no say on how many will not be able to go into classrooms on Monday

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccination event outside the Bronx Writing Academy school in New York City
The city’s doubling down its efforts to vaccinate New Yorkers against COVID-19 as the Delta variant continues to spread across the Five Boroughs.
REUTERS/Mike Segar

Mayor Bill de Blasio revealed Friday that 90% of all roughly 148,000 Department of Education employees have gotten at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine including 93% of the city’s 78,000 public school teachers and 98% of its 1,600 principals.

“We already have what we need to run the school system well and serve our kids in a safe way, but I know these numbers are going to go up in the next 24 hours, for sure,” de Blasio said during an interview on WNYC’s “The Brian Lehrer Show,” Friday morning. 

The news came hours before a 5 p.m. deadline for all DOE employees to receive at least one dose of a vaccine and submit proof of vaccination in order to comply with the mayor´s vaccine mandate. 

The mandate was originally meant to go into effect Monday, Sept. 27 at midnight but after a federal appeals judge filed a temporary injunction New York City officials were blocked from enforcing the mandate. Later that day, the injunction was lifted and de Blasio pushed back the mandate deadline DOE staffers had to get the shot and provide the department with proof of vaccination until end of day Friday, Oct. 1. 

The mayor and multiple DOE spokespersons have released updated data on the percentage of the department´s roughly 150,000 employees that are at least partially inoculated against the virus but have refused to publicly say how many of those that have gotten at least partially vaccinated have submitted proof of vaccination or how many instructors have yet to be vaccinated. As of Friday, only 500 DOE employees have been approved for a vaccination exemption, according to a DOE spokesperson. 

Since de Blasio announced the mandate in August, some school leadership and union representatives have worried the requirement mixed with the limited number of religious and medical exemptions the City will give will cause staffing shortages. 

During the interview on “The Brian Lehrer Show,” host Brian Lehrer pressed de Blasio to specify how many teachers would not be allowed to go into their classroom come Monday morning which de Blasio dodged. Instead, the mayor explained that any teacher that does not get vaccinated by Friday afternoon will be placed on unpaid leave and replaced by a substitute teacher. 

“I think what you’re going to see is a lot of vaccinations today, and then I think you’ll see some people who go into that unpaid leave status and experienced that for a while, and don’t like what they’re experiencing, and come back and get vaccinated,” de Blasio told Lehrer. “I think those are going to be the two big thrusts here.”

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