New York City public school workers to receive first vaccine by September 27, no testing option

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) – Mayor Bill de Blasio has said that employees of public schools in New York City will need to have received at least one dose of the COVID vaccine by September 27. The new vaccination policy will not allow optional weekly testing.

The policy is the first general vaccination mandate for a category of municipal workers, although some groups of employees have already been informed that they would be required to be vaccinated according to their specific responsibilities.

About 148,000 school employees and contractors who work in the schools will need to receive at least a first dose by September 27.

“What a perfect time for this given the big news today, the FDA, and we are so thrilled, the FDA today announced full approval of the Pfizer vaccine,” said Mayor de Blasio. “It’s a game-changing moment.”

The previous requirement allowed for weekly testing for unvaccinated employees, with unpaid suspensions for workers who did not comply.

“We will immediately start working with the unions, I have spoken to the leaders of the main unions in recent days,” said de Blasio. “We will start negotiating with them immediately on the impact of this decision and how to make sure we can implement it correctly and fairly. We will work together. They will all talk about this decision and offer their own points. point of view, but what there is clearly is a willingness to sit down at the negotiating table and understand what that means and what the ramifications are. “

At least 63% of school workers have already been vaccinated. This figure does not include those who were able to get vaccinated outside the city.

School starts on September 13 for about 1 million students in the city’s public schools. The move comes at a time to reassure parents amid concerns about returning to public schools with increasing positivity rates.

“If there is a cornerstone of our recovery, it is bringing our children back to learning safely in person alongside their friends and among supportive educators,” said the Department of Health Commissioner of New York City, Dr. David Chokshi.

Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Teachers’ Federation, said he would start negotiating with leaders of major unions on the impact of the mandate and how it can be implemented “correctly and fairly”.

“Our first priority is to keep our children safe and schools open. Teachers in the city have led the way on this issue, with the vast majority already vaccinated. As the city asserts its legal authority to establish this mandate, there are many details of implementation. , including the provisions for medical exceptions, which by law must be negotiated with UFT and other unions and, if necessary, resolved by arbitration, ”said Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Teachers’ Federation .

When asked if he would have preferred the mayor to have an agreement in place before announcing a mandate, Mulgrew said: “That probably would have been a better way to do it. For some reason he took its decisions. “

CSA President Mark Cannizzaro also issued a statement saying, “While the CSA has supported all efforts to encourage vaccination, we have also insisted that vaccination and testing policies are matters. collective bargaining. Today, the mayor acknowledged that the city must negotiate the details of the new policy with the school unions, and we will work to protect the rights and interests of our members at the negotiating table. “

Meanwhile, the union representing school principals added that these demands are subject to collective bargaining.

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