Christine Rios is a member of the parent-teacher association at P.S. 62 in Charleston, Staten Island.
“I want teachers to teach my kid. I don’t want a sub to teach my kid,” said Rios.
That’s why she joined dozens of parents Monday morning in a rally against the city’s COVID-19 vaccine mandates for city teachers and staff, worried if it goes into effect thousands of staff members won’t be able to report to work.
Rios said the rally was not a political stance against the vaccine, but against the mandate.
“I got the shot cause I wanted to get the shot. My choice is my body. If we let you tell us what to do, then we got nothing. Freedom of choice, that's why I'm here,” said Rios.
At his daily press briefing Monday, Mayor Bill de Blasio said that 87% of all Department of Education (DOE) employees have at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
“For parents and kids, this should be a real sense of relief to see the numbers are already so high, and that says great things about our ability to have a safe school system,” said de Blasio.
But if 87% of DOE workers are vaccinated, 13% are not.
Eugene Mambel wants to see everyone that could come into contact with his granddaughter get vaccinated.
“When I got my vaccine, I was in contact with many people that were sick. Me? Nothing,” said Mambel.
We talked to him while he was waiting to pick his granddaughter up from school. Under the mandate, those who choose to not get the shot would not be able to enter any DOE buildings.
“That’s bad news, but what can you do? A rule is a rule,” said Mambel.
But parents back at the rally fear that rule will impact their children’s education. The mayor said that the city is prepared to combat staffing problems with substitute teachers.
“I love substitutes. I was a substitute myself years ago and they deserve jobs as well. But not in place of a teacher's right to be in the school. Our kids love our teachers and they’re excited about this year. They’re in five days a week. They need that stability,” said parent Liz Namio.