The status of up to 36,000 unvaccinated education ministry workers – including more than 15,000 teachers – remains in limbo this week amid ongoing talks between the city and union representatives.
To fight COVID-19, city hall has demanded that all DOE employees get at least one injection before the September 27 deadline or risk being taken off the payroll.
DOE spokeswoman Danielle Filson said Wednesday that 72 percent of the agency’s 130,000 employees had received at least one dose.
The remaining 28 percent represent more than 36,000 employees in total.
Filson said that of the city’s 78,000 teachers in the DOE’s overall workforce, 74% have received a confirmed vaccine against COVID-19.
The United Federation of Teachers estimated on Wednesday that the actual number is around 80 percent as some teachers have sought to be vaccinated through private doctors or out of town.
That would leave more than 15,000 teachers in the city who still haven’t received at least one dose in school as of Monday.
Chancellor of Schools Meisha Ross-Porter stressed her belief that DOE employee vaccinations will ramp up as the school year begins and the jab deadline draws near.
City officials and union officials have repeatedly encouraged DOE workers to get vaccinated as protection against the virus and the highly transmissible delta variant.
Some groups of teachers argued that unvaccinated colleagues put others at risk of infection and threatened to quit their jobs if they were forced to work alongside them.
UFT chief Michael Mulgrew said on Wednesday that the city had dropped the threat to stop paychecks for unvaccinated DOE teachers, even if they were granted a religious medical waiver.
But the fate of unvaccinated DOE workers who neither apply for nor receive either of these passes remains unclear.
“Following the UFT’s request for independent arbitration, the city rescinded its original position that teachers with medical and religious exemptions to the vaccine be taken out of the payroll,” Mulgrew said in a statement. communicated. “But there are still many details on how these exemptions will be enforced – and how other teachers who do not wish to take the vaccine will be treated – which are currently being reviewed with the referee.”
De Blasio reiterated his position that all adults working in schools in the city will be vaccinated and that the measure will help curb infections and disruption throughout the year.
He said the limited number of DOE employees who are granted immunization exemptions for religious or medical reasons will not be removed from the payroll.
“There will be a process to confirm them, but they will be honored,” he said during his daily briefing. “These people will continue to work for us to some extent. “
But Hizzoner said a broader deal with the UFT is still being sought.
“We are still in these negotiations, they have been intense,” he said. “We obviously hope to settle things. We are currently in a process, an arbitration process. I don’t want to get ahead of the game in any way. Our goal is to resolve these issues and move forward. But that hasn’t been sorted out yet, and obviously we have to do it very, very quickly. “