The number of vaccinated New York City teachers and staff jumped to 97 percent by Monday morning, the United Federation of Teachers said as the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for the nation’s largest school system went into effect.
Less than 4,000 Department of Education staffers, including 2,000 teachers, are still unvaccinated as classes started Monday morning and will now be put on unpaid leave, UFT President Michael Mulgrew said.
The figures were up from Friday when Mayor Bill de Blasio said 93 percent of teachers had received at least one shot as he issued a final warning before the mandate was enforced.
As of Friday, 90 percent of all DOE staff had received at least one dose, the mayor said.
The city is expected to release final numbers on “non-compliant” staff later on Monday.
Teachers and staff who are not vaccinated are being placed on unpaid leave for a year with health insurance, or have the option to depart the DOE with severance.
Those who received a shot over the weekend were allowed to return Monday.
The DOE had instructed principals to create a list of staffers banned from entering school buildings on Monday due to defiance of the COVID-19 vaccination mandate.
Principals were told to call on school safety agents for support in the event any situations with unvaccinated staff escalated.
About 9,000 vaccinated substitute teachers were on standby to fill shortages, according to the DOE.
A total of 30 teachers were out on Monday at Tottenville High School in Staten Island, a source told the Post.
The vaccination mandate for the school system with over a million students does not include a test-out option but does allow for medical and religious exemptions.
Of the 3,000 union members who applied for medical or religious exemptions, about 1,000 were granted, according to Mulgrew.
Asked if he’s “confident” if there would be adequate staffing, Mulgrew said: “I’m confident in the schools and the teachers and the staff.”
He added that the mandate should have been sorted over the summer to avoid chaos.
About 970 school safety agents – 20 percent of the city’s 4,848 force — were still unvaccinated ahead of Monday, according to the NYPD – sparking concerns the number of guards at some schools could be reduced amid a recent spate of violent incidents involving students.
Shermette Mesam, whose two children attend PS13 in Brooklyn, insisted that teachers “have to do their part”.
“You know, we have our children here. I wouldn’t like them to be exposed. I think they (teachers) should take the vaccine. We don’t know where this thing is going to go,” she told the Post.
A woman, who only gave her name as A.J., said she supported the vaccine mandate but didn’t want any of the teachers to be fired over their choice.
“I don’t think they should find another job, but I’m just thinking that they should consider everybody’s safety right because we don’t want this pandemic to be around for too long. It’s been long enough,” she said as she dropped off her cousins.
Meanwhile, Ken Stiell, who was dropping off his two daughters, said teachers being denied entry to schools over their vaccinated status was “messed up.”
“If you’ve been there for so many years right, all of a sudden now, technically, I mean, you’re almost out of a job. Hopefully, maybe they find some kind of middle ground,” he said.
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