Over 70% of New York City public school teachers have gotten at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, City officials said Wednesday.
In total, 72% of the City’s almost 80,000 teachers have gotten at least the first shot of a vaccine as well as 65% of all vaccine eligible children across the five boroughs, or kids between the ages of 12 and 17, Schools Chancellor Meisha Ross Porter revealed during a press conference with Mayor Bill de Blasio.
¨We are confident that our faculty members and our staff members are going to get that first dose even before the 27th,” said Porter. In August, Mayor de Blasio ordered that all Department of Education employees must get the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by Sept. 27 as part of a broader vaccine mandate for municipal workers.
¨We’ve seen our numbers continue to increase and we know that it’s important for us to build a bubble of protection around our students,” Porter added.
President of the United Federation of Teachers Michael Mulgrew warned union members in a meeting prior to the announcement that he would not be surprised if the City were to issue such a mandate. The move miffed some union leaders who believed the mandate should have come out of collective bargaining effort.
In the weeks since the announcement, City officials and union representatives have been involved in bargaining talks with Mulgrew expressing frustration last week over an alleged stalemate over medical and religious exemptions.
According to Mulgrew, City bargaining advocates wanted to remove unvaccinated teachers from their school´s payroll even if they qualified for a medical or religious exemption. The move, Mulgrew said, violated teacher contracts with the City as well as state and federal law.
On Wednesday, de Blasio updated reporters on the status of disagreement and ongoing negotiations with the union.
¨We recognize there are definitely a few cases and it’s pretty rare where someone medically cannot be vaccinated, but where that is confirmed… of course there are grounds for a valid medical exemption,” de Blasio said. ¨There are narrow and specific grounds for religious exemption. Those will be honored, there will be a process to confirm them but they will be honored.¨
It remains unclear what exact process officials will use in order to determine a legitimate medical or religious exemption for receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.