Sign up for our PoliticsNY newsletter for the latest coverage and to stay informed about the 2021 elections in your district and across New York
More than 70% of teachers in public schools in New York City have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, city officials said on Wednesday.
In total, 72% of the city’s roughly 80,000 teachers received at least the first vaccine as well as 65% of all vaccine-eligible children in the five districts, or children aged 12 to 17, Chancellor of Meisha Schools Ross Porter revealed during a press conference with Mayor Bill de Blasio.
“We are confident that our professors and staff will receive this first dose even before the 27th,” Porter said. In August, the mayor of Blasio ordered all education ministry employees to receive the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by September 27 as part of a broader vaccine mandate for employees municipal.
“We have seen our numbers continue to grow and we know it is important for us to build a bubble of protection around our students,” Porter added.
United Teachers’ Federation president Michael Mulgrew warned union members at a meeting ahead of the announcement that he would not be surprised if the city issues such a warrant. This decision upset some union leaders who believed the mandate should have been the result of collective bargaining efforts.
In the weeks following the announcement, city officials and union representatives participated in negotiations with Mulgrew, expressing frustration last week over an alleged deadlock over medical and religious exemptions.
According to Mulgrew, supporters of the city’s bargaining wanted to remove unvaccinated teachers from their school’s payroll, even if they were eligible for a medical or religious exemption. The move, Mulgrew said, violated teachers’ contracts with the city as well as federal and state laws.
On Wednesday, de Blasio briefed reporters on the state of disagreement and ongoing negotiations with the union.
“We recognize that there are certainly a few cases and it’s quite rare where someone cannot be medically vaccinated, but where this is confirmed… of course there are grounds for a valid medical exemption,” said by Blasio. There are narrow and specific grounds for religious exemption. These will be honored, there will be a process to confirm them but they will be honored.
It is still unclear what exact process officials will use to determine a legitimate medical or religious exemption to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.