NYC public school teachers to get some COVID-19 vaccine mandate exemptions

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NEW YORK — A resolution between the city and the union for public school teachers will grant new options for educators who are not vaccinated against COVID-19.

An independent arbitrator announced late Friday that teachers with specific documented medical or religious exemptions must be offered alternative work assignments. The arbitrator also said remote work must be available for vaccinated teachers with suppressed immune systems.

The arbitration calls for unpaid leave with health coverage, or a severance arrangement, for those who refuse to get the shot and do not qualify for an exemption. That unpaid leave would last through September of next year.

Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter commended the swiftness of the decision, saying, “We’re pleased that the binding Arbitration was issued before the first day of school and we will swiftly implement the terms.”

The teacher vaccine mandate is scheduled to go into effect Sept. 27.

According to the city education department, as of Friday morning at least 74% of department employees have been vaccinated, although the United Federation of Teachers union estimates over 80% of teachers have already been vaccinated.

There will be more than 700 vaccination sites in public schools across the city when classes begin Monday.

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