1,300 NYC school staff must get COVID shots or be fired

Time is running out for some 1,300 employees of the city’s Department of Education on unpaid leave for a year since the city’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate.

Under an agreement they signed a year ago, staff members must show proof of at least one shot by September 5, before the start of the new school year.

If they do, « they will return to their home school, » officials said.

Otherwise, they will be “deemed to have voluntarily resigned”.

» I am very stressed. I pray until the last minute for something to change,” said an unvaccinated teacher who worked more than 20 years at an elementary school in Queens.

About 1,300 NYC DOE employees have been on unpaid leave for a year.
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She took the unpaid leave after her appeal for a religious exemption was denied, but still received city health insurance that covered therapies for a son and daughter with special needs.

To make ends meet, she took out a loan from her retirement savings.

« I’m still on the fence, » she said of the decision to vaccinate. « I really don’t want to do it, but if I have to do it for my kids, I have to. »

Unpaid employees — including hundreds of teachers — have had health coverage since skipping the city’s deadline to get vaccinated last October 4.

About 1,100 other unvaccinated DOE employees who rejected the unpaid leave agreement have already been terminated, the DOE said.

But if these staff members « provide proof of full vaccination, they may be rehired », without guarantee of the same position.

Another 82 teachers accused of submitting fake vaccination cards were removed from the city’s payroll on April 25 after being caught up in a Suffolk County criminal investigation, but will be reinstated on the payroll on April 6 September pending investigation.


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