Some city schools could lose up to 100 teachers and staffers next week due to COVID-19 vaccine mandates, union officials revealed Friday.
United Federation of Teachers president Michael Mulgrew and Council of School Supervisors and Administrators president Mark Cannizzaro held a joint press conference to warn of staffing shortfalls and the city’s lack of preparedness.
The Department of Education has said 13 percent of city educators remain unvaccinated and face removal from payroll Tuesday while Mulgrew put the number at 5 or 10 percent.
But even at the lower figures, he cautioned that thousands of teachers will become ineligible to work after Monday’s midnight vaccination deadline.
“The truth is, at this point, principals and superintendents have been reaching out consistently to tell us they are concerned about not having enough staff come Tuesday morning,” Cannizzaro said.
While they said they want their members vaccinated, Mulgrew and Cannizzaro are pushing to delay the deadline until school workforces stabilize.
Both men stressed that absent teachers are only part of the problem.
The DOE has said 80 percent of its total workforce of 130,000 — including essential kitchen and custodial staff — are vaccinated.
That would leave more than 28,000 employees facing removal next week.
In addition, as many as 60 percent of 4,300 school safety agents have refused the jab and could soon be off the job, officials warned.
Cannizzaro said roughly 10 percent of city principals have applied for religious or medical vaccine exemptions and that few are being approved.
The union bosses blasted city officials for failing to connect with and assist administrators grappling with staffing worries.
Mulgrew criticized Mayor Bill de Blasio for not addressing the matter over the summer and for setting a vaccine deadline with the school week in progress.
“I am asking City Hall to wake up and start making decisions based on the ramifications of the children of New York City and not your own political purposes,” he said.
But de Blasio was steadfast Friday in asserting the DOE’s ability to staff all city schools after the deadline.
Hizzoner told WNYC radio host Brian Lehrer that there were legions of vaccinated substitutes poised to plug faculty holes.
“We’re ready,” he said, noting that the DOE made steep hiring increases last year due to COVID-19 needs. “Even to the tune of if we need thousands. We have thousands.”
Cannizzaro noted Friday that existing teachers are not easily dispensable — especially those who handle subjects like advanced physics and math.
“We’ve heard a lot about sub teachers being deployed,” he said. “The question is are they qualified subs for the right subject areas that are needed?”
He predicted a frenzied Tuesday morning scramble for replacements.
“The fact of the matter is that substitutes are going to be very hard to come by because everyone is looking for substitutes right now,” he said.
Mulgrew also pressed City Hall for an accounting of chronically absent students this year and estimated that figure to be as high as 150,000.
DOE staffers who remain unvaccinated after the deadline have the option of going on unpaid leave with health insurance or exiting the DOE with severance pay.
De Blasio has long argued that the vaccine mandate will suppress coronavirus outbreaks and school closures.
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