As Mayor Bill de Blasio’s vaccine mandate for Department of Education workers goes into full effect, New York City officials reported Monday that 95% of all full-time DOE employees have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Throughout the summer, Mayor de Blasio pushed for students and staff to get vaccinated ahead of his planned full return to classrooms in the fall eventually issuing a vaccination mandate for all roughly 150,000 DOE workers in late August.
The mandate was originally scheduled to go into effect on Monday, Sept. 27 at midnight but a federal judge temporarily blocked officials from enforcing the order. A three-personal federal panel lifted the temporary injunction allowing the mandate to be implemented late that same day. In response, de Blasio gave unvaccinated DOE employees until 5 p.m. last Friday.
As of Monday morning, 96% of public teachers and 99% of public school principals have gotten at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to de Blasio. Since the mandate’s announcement on Aug. 23, over 43,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered to DOE workers.
“As of today all the employees in our 1,600 schools are vaccinated and that is unprecedented,” said de Blasio. “And that’s on top of all other layers of protection, all health and safety measures that make up that gold standard that we put in place last year that we continue to deepen this year.”
The mandate’s deadline pushed thousands of DOE staffers to get vaccinated against the virus. Just over the weekend ahead of the Sept. 27 deadline, 7,000 shots were administered to DOE employees.
Under the mandate, all school-based staff that did not get vaccinated and submit their proof of vaccination by last Friday have been placed on unpaid leave. De Blasio was unable to provide an exact number of how many teachers have been placed when asked by reporters Monday morning.
Just under 4,000 public school teachers represented by the city’s teachers’ union, the United Federation of Teachers, have yet to be vaccinated and that 1,000 have been given a vaccination exemption based on medical or religious grounds although 3,000 applied, according to UFT President Michael Mulgrew. The DOE has yet to specify how many staffers have received a vaccination exemption for medical reasons versus religious beliefs.
Prior to the mandate deadline, some school staff and union leaders expressed concern the order would cause staffing shortages. On Monday, Schools Chancellor Meisha Ross Porter said that staffing shortages have and will be addressed with the City’s thousands of vaccinated substitute teachers or by other school staff. New York City has about 9,000 vaccinated substitute teachers and 5,000 vaccinated substitute paraprofessionals on hand.
The chancellor commented on the city’s status of substitute teachers after a reporter brought up staffing shortages at New Dorp High School on Staten Island, which serves about 3,000 students, during the mayor´s morning press conference. On Monday, about 20 unvaccinated teachers were unable to instruct their students due to the mandate.
“Twenty staffers in a school of that size while not insignificant was fully covered by the work of the superintendent, by the work of the central staff and by subs,” said Porter.