STATEN ISLAND, NY — Nearly a thousand New York school workers who refused to receive the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine have officially lost their jobs and health insurance benefits, according to the New York Post.
Last year, former Mayor Bill de Blasio first announced that every city Department of Education (DOE) employee must receive the COVID-19 vaccine for the final year of school. It has mandated the vaccine for all DOE workers by October 1, arguing that it would help combat the spread of the coronavirus.
The mandate — which is still in effect — includes teachers, principals, janitors, administrative staff, food service workers, school safety officers, headquarters staff, charter school staff and preschool teachers who work in community organizations contracted by the DOE.
If an employee was not vaccinated or failed to upload proof of vaccination, he or she was placed on unpaid leave, according to the DOE. Despite being on leave, these employees continued to have health insurance.
According to the report, the city’s Department of Education (DOE) fired another 850 teachers and other school staff for failing to meet the city’s immunization requirements for employees. That brings the total number of DOE employees laid off since the vaccination mandate went into effect last October to nearly 2,000, the media outlet reported.
About 1,300 DOE employees who elected to take a year of unpaid leave with health insurance benefits have agreed to provide proof of a coronavirus vaccination by Sept. 5 or be considered “voluntarily resigned,” the Post reported.
As of September 5, only 450 had received the vaccine. They are returning to their former schools or places of work, DOE officials told the media — including about 225 teachers and 135 paraprofessionals.
Last week, the City Council’s Common Sense Caucus said in a statement that vaccination requirements for city employees — including DOE employees — should be relaxed.
Councilor Joe Borelli (R-South Shore) explained that earlier this month the group met with Mayor Eric Adams and the city’s Health Commissioner, Dr. Ashwin Vasan, to ease the easing of coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine mandates for public and private employees, including teachers and school staff, and allow all vaccinated and unvaccinated students to participate in sporting and extracurricular activities. The caucus also called for an end to the vaccination mandate for all visitors – including parents – to school buildings. He called the mandates “simply absurd”.
“We have confronted the mayor and the health commissioner with the need to rescind these mandates that no longer have any basis for public health justification,” Borelli said.
The Common Sense Caucus said in a statement there was still more work to be done, but based on discussions with the mayor and health commissioner, the group is “optimistic some positive changes to this policy may be on the horizon.”
The city’s immunization mandate remains in place for all city officials.