NEW YORK — About a quarter of NYPD school safety agents still have not been vaccinated against the coronavirus — and if that doesn’t change by 5 p.m. this Friday, they won’t be eligible to work next week.
“There's days more for people to get vaccinated,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said at his daily news briefing Tuesday. “We guarantee you a substantial number more will get vaccinated in that time.”
The mandate was initially set to go into effect this Monday, and still, only 74% of the agents are vaccinated. That could leave the city moving agents around — and relying on longer shifts — next week.
“There is overtime, which can help us to fill some of those shifts. There's places where if you had a certain number of school safety agents and you have one less, it doesn't stop you from still getting the work done,” the mayor said. “There's a variety of things that we're going to do.”
What You Need To Know
- The city's vaccine mandate for school staff doesn't just apply to teachers — it also includes NYPD school safety agents
- And only 74% of them are vaccinated, with just days to go before the 5 p.m. Friday deadline
- The mayor says the city can use overtime to help cover for unvaccinated staffers who won't be able to work — and who won't get paid — starting Monday
But appearing on NY1 on Tuesday morning, the mayor’s police commissioner, Dermot Shea, didn’t sound as optimistic about the ability to plug any holes.
“We can’t put what we don’t have,” he said. “We’ll be as fluid as we can.”
The police department sent school safety agents text messages last week reminding them they’d lose their pay if they weren’t vaccinated, and informing others they’d need to work 12-hour shifts to alleviate a staffing crunch.
Gregory Floyd, who heads the union representing the agents, says there's been no other communication by the city.
“There's a lot of uncertainty, and there are no answers,” said Floyd, president of Teamsters Local 237. “There are no meetings going on, at least not including myself. So I don't know what to expect on Monday.”
Floyd says he encourages his members to speak to their physicians, and says that in almost all cases their physicians will advise them to get vaccinated.
But he says the staffing crunch is made worse by elected officials who want to remove the NYPD from schools, and who called for the city not to hire new classes of agents.
“I warned everyone — parents, students, teachers — my conversation started last year and continued up to this year,” Floyd said. “Well, September's here and you’re short.”
The rates of vaccination in other school job titles is considerably higher. Eighty-seven percent of all staff working in city school buildings have received the shot, and that figure is 91% among teachers, the mayor said Tuesday.
Starting Monday, anyone who works in a school and hasn't been vaccinated will lose their paycheck.
“They may even lose their job, ultimately,” de Blasio said. “A lot of people are going to look at that and say, ‘Hold up, okay, I'll get vaccinated.’”
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