NYC mandates vaccination for teachers and public school staff
NEW YORK (AP) – All teachers and other staff at public schools in New York City will need to be vaccinated against the coronavirus, officials said on Monday, stepping up protections against pandemics as the largest school system of the country is preparing for the start of classes next month.
The city previously stated that teachers, like other city workers, should get vaccinated or tested every week for the virus. The new policy marks the first vaccination mandate without options for a large group of city workers in the country’s most populous city, although Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Friday that football, basketball coaches and students ball and others “high risk” sports should be vaccinated before the start of the game.
The unions bristled at the new demand, saying the city should negotiate, not dictate. Two groups of workers in large cities were planning to file a complaint or take legal action.
According to an announcement from the Democratic mayor and the city’s health and education departments, around 148,000 school employees – and contractors who work in the schools – will need to receive at least a first dose by the 27th. September.
“We will do whatever it takes to make sure everyone is safe,” de Blasio said during a virtual press briefing. Chancellor of Schools Meisha Ross Porter called the policy âanother level of protection for our children,â including her own Grade 11 student.
The city did not immediately say whether there would be any exemptions or what the refusal penalty would be, although de Blasio told MSNBC later Monday that “there will clearly be consequences.” The previous vaccination or testing requirement provided for unpaid suspensions for workers who did not comply.
De Blasio said the city will begin negotiations this week with unions in the school system over details, and officials are hoping for agreements. But the mayor said the city intends to implement the requirement on September 27, with or without a deal.
A union known as DC 37 – which represents school assistants, canteen workers and other staff as well as thousands of other city employees – said it would file a practice complaint unfair labor practices with the state’s Public Employment Relations Board. And the municipal labor committee, a coordinating group of unions that together represent about 350,000 city workers, voted on Monday to take legal action that could mean a lawsuit over the city’s various vaccination policies for employees. of the city, said President Harry Nespoli.
“All we want to do is sit down and try to negotiate the best policy that will protect the city and its workers,” said Nespoli, who is vaccinated but worries about maintaining the possibility of being tested instead. of an inoculation.
âWe are also concerned about the people of New York. We don’t want people to get sick, âhe said, butâ there has to be an alternative if that person doesn’t want to take this vaccine. “
The city did not immediately comment on the planned actions of the working groups.
Other school unions have also said they need answers and comments.
âI fully understand why you have the requirement: there is a pandemic. We just need to make sure we negotiate “accommodations” if a doctor certifies that someone shouldn’t get the shot, said Gregory Floyd, president of Teamsters Local 237. This represents approximately 4,400 school security officers.
The United Federation of Teachers has raised the possibility of arbitration “if necessary”.
Custodians union president Robert Troeller said he believed about 60% of the 850 members of Local 891 of the International Union of Operating Engineers got at least a first chance, but some others “Are strongly opposed to this”.
At least 63% of all school workers have already been vaccinated, not counting those who were able to get vaccinated outside of town.
Across the city, more than 70% of adults have received at least a first dose.
The new requirement came as federal regulators have given full approval Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, one of three vaccines available in the United States. All already have an authorization for emergency use, but officials hope full approval will increase public confidence in the vaccines.
School starts on September 13 for about 1 million students in the city’s public schools.
US Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona praised the city’s “leadership” in teacher immunization, tweeting that it is important to maximize the number of people vaccinated in schools.
New York, like other cities and states, has fought off the highly contagious delta variant of the virus by stepping up pressure to get more people vaccinated.
New York last week began to require proof of vaccination t o enter the dining rooms of restaurants, gymnasiums and many other public places, a first policy in the country that a few other cities have copied. Meanwhile, New York State announced last week that hospital and nursing home workers should get vaccinated.
Vaccination mandates for teachers have been quite rare so far in the United States, although Washington State, for example, says teachers must be vaccinated or fired.
Vaccination or testing requirements for school employees are a bit more common, existing in places like Los Angeles and Chicago, which are the two largest American school districts after New York. The state of New Jersey joined the list on Monday with a new policy affecting teachers and government employees.
A new Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research survey found that about 6 in 10 Americans say that students and teachers should wear face masks in school, and that eligible teachers and students should also be required to be vaccinated. But Democrats and Republicans differ sharply on these issues, according to the poll.