1,300 NYC school staffers must get COVID vaccine or be fired

1,300 NYC school staffers must get COVID vaccine or be fired

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

Under an agreement they signed a year ago, the staffers must show proof of at least one jab by Sept. 5, before the new school year starts.

If they do so, “they will return to their original school,” officials said.

If not, they will be “deemed to have voluntarily resigned.” 

“I’m very stressed. I’m praying to the last minute that something will change,” said an unvaccinated teacher who worked more than 20 years at a Queens elementary school.

Vaccine protest
There are around 1,300 NYC DOE employees who have been on unpaid leave for a year.
Getty Images

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 on her pension 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 will have to.”

The unpaid employees — including hundreds of teachers — have been getting health coverage since skipping the city’s deadline to get vaccinated last Oct. 4.

Another roughly 1,100 unvaccinated DOE employees who rejected the unpaid-leave deal have already been fired, the DOE said.

But if those staffers “provide proof of full vaccination, they will be eligible for rehiring,” with no guarantee of the same position. 

Another 82 teachers accused of submitting fake vaccination cards were taken off the city payroll on April 25 after they were caught up on a Suffolk County criminal investigation, but will be put back on the payroll on Sept. 6 pending the probe.

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