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Deadline, exemptions, litigation: here’s what we know as New York’s school vaccine mandate goes into effect this month

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STATEN ISLAND, NY – In just over a week, every New York City employee who works at a school should have received at least one dose of the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine – including teachers and directors of the Department of Education (DOE), contract employees and those who work in charter schools.

“We want our schools to be extremely safe all year round,” Mayor Bill de Blasio announced last month. “Today, the New York City Department of Health will issue an order requiring all staff in New York City public schools to be vaccinated. This will require all staff of all kinds, principals, teachers, guards, catering, etc. “

The warrant removed the testing option for school staff that currently allows other city workers to be fully immunized or tested weekly.

As September 27th quickly approaches, here are five things you need to know.

Who is included in this mandate?

School personnel under this mandate include any adult working in a city public school, including teachers, principals, custodians, administration, food service workers and school safety officers. It also includes employees working in the central DOE office.

School bus drivers and matrons will not be required to get vaccinated, according to recent media reports.

“[The] The vaccination mandate will apply to all 148,000 employees, including those who work in our central offices and contractors who work in schools, ”said Chancellor of Schools Meisha Porter.

De Blasio expanded the mandate to include school staff working in the city’s contract programs, including childcare and after-school programs. This includes staff at city contract sites including Preschool, 3-K, Early Learn, Home Day Care, After School Programs, Beacon Programs, and Cornerstone Programs.

Programs that are not contracted by the city are not included in the mandate.

The mayor also announced on Tuesday that the city would extend the term to all employees of charter schools in New York City. De Blasio explained that teachers in charter schools located in public school buildings were already covered by the previous vaccination mandate, but Tuesday’s announcement extends that mandate to adults working in charter schools and not in school buildings. public.

“Those already in public school buildings were covered by the previous vaccination mandate,” he said. “And that’s about 191 charter schools that are in the DOE buildings. For adults in these schools, teachers, staff, they have the vaccination mandate already active on September 27. Now we are going to reach the 203 charter schools that are not in the buildings of the Ministry of Education. So, for all staff and teachers at these 203 charter schools that are not in DOE buildings, the full vaccination mandate will be in place by September 27. “

How to present proof of vaccination?

In order to provide DOE vaccination status, employees must upload proof of vaccination through the agency’s vaccination portal at vaccine.schools.nyc. Users will be prompted to log in to upload proof, which may be an image of the immunization card, NYS Excelsior Pass, or other government document.

If an employee has not yet been vaccinated, they will be asked to make an appointment via a managed by the state Where city vaccination site.

Will this create a shortage of teachers?

Porter said the city does not expect a staff shortage and expects school staff to get vaccinated.

“Our teachers have been our greatest heroes throughout this pandemic and have come forward in so many amazing ways, and this is the next way to get our babies back to class and keep them protected and safe,” a- she declared.

De Blasio also said he was confident the mandate would work and that teachers and school staff would be vaccinated accordingly.

“I know a lot of teachers and other professionals aspire to work in the New York public school system for many reasons, including the way we pay people,” he said. “So I have no doubts that it will work and that we will achieve a high level of compliance. And we’ve given ourselves time here to really work with people, to make it happen the right way. “

Will there be any exemptions?

Earlier this month, the United Teachers’ Federation (UFT) announced it was seeking state mediation over New York City’s reluctance to negotiate medical or religious exemptions for the vaccine’s mandate. .

The UFT sought intervention from the state’s Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) to resolve the issue through mediation, saying the city’s refusal to provide exceptions to the mandate violated state and federal laws, as well as the union contract.

“Our negotiations with the city have gone badly, to say the least,” UFT president Michael Mulgrew told reporters at the time. “It’s clear that the two sides are very, very far apart on how to handle this vaccine mandate.”

The union said city negotiators said people with medical issues can stay on the payroll and use their sick days before being put on unpaid leave, and those with religious objections would be immediately placed on unpaid leave. These workers would find themselves without a source of income or health insurance.

However, last week an independent adjudicator ruled that teachers in the city with certain documented medical conditions should be offered out-of-class assignments.

Additionally, the arbitrator ruled that other staff reluctant to get vaccinated should be offered either unpaid leave that maintains their health coverage or severance pay.

UFT members can apply for medical and religious exemptions and accommodation by September 20, the DOE said.

Is there a lawsuit against this warrant?

Staten Island attorneys Mark Fonte and Louis Gelormino filed a class action lawsuit earlier this month against New York City, the DOE, and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) over the requirement that all employees of public schools in New York City must receive at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by September 27.

“After many conversations with my partner Louis Gelormino and former Congressman Vito Fossella, we have decided to lead this fight on behalf of our teachers and schoolchildren,” Fonte said. “We all felt it was imperative to be a voice for the voiceless.”

A DOE representative said the ministry would review the lawsuit.

“The health and safety of New York City’s children and the protection of our employees is at the heart of our immunization policy – we will be reviewing this lawsuit,” said DOE spokeswoman Katie O’Hanlon.

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