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New York schools brace for staff shortage as vaccine mandate looms

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The nation’s largest school system braces for disruption to some schools next week, as a mandate to vaccinate virtually all adults working in New York City schools is expected to go into effect at midnight Monday, which could lead to a staff shortage by Tuesday morning.

The warrant – which requires workers to receive at least the first dose of a coronavirus vaccine by Monday and is the first warrant without a testing option for any group of workers in the city – covers more than 150,000 people, including educators, school staff and central office workers.

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the tenure last month, but thousands of Education Department employees have yet to receive their first doses or submit proof of vaccination, DOE estimates and union leaders representing educators.

More than 90% of teachers and principals have received at least one dose of the vaccine, union leaders say, and it is highly likely that more educators will get their first vaccine or submit proof of vaccination by Monday evening to avoid to lose their paychecks.

But Michael Mulgrew, the president of the city’s teachers’ union, said there were still around 6,000 teachers who would not be allowed into schools on Tuesday if they didn’t get a chance over the weekend. end.

The teachers ‘and school principals’ unions on Friday called on Mr. de Blasio to postpone the implementation of the mandate at least until next weekend, so that schools have more time to anticipate shortages. Later on Friday, Mr de Blasio resisted those calls in a radio appearance and said the city had “thousands” of replacements ready to fill vacancies in schools next week.

Educators who refuse to be vaccinated will be able to take a year of unpaid leave and keep their health insurance until the end of the school year.

The city said it would send vaccinated substitute teachers and central office staff to schools to cover shortages. But the most pressing challenges may not lie in the classroom: only about 80 percent of school staff, including helpers, guards, security guards, and school meal helpers, have received in the classroom. minus one dose.

In many schools, almost all adults are vaccinated. But in others, there are between 30 and 100 teachers and staff who have yet to receive a dose of the vaccine, according to Mark Cannizzaro, who heads the city’s principals’ union.

The teachers ‘and principals’ unions are both part of a lawsuit with other municipal unions challenging the vaccine’s mandate, but officials have admitted the lawsuit would likely be unsuccessful.

Educators have been eligible for the vaccine since January.


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