At 66 years old, Bernice Wise was gearing up to retire after one more year of teaching. However, her education career ended earlier than she planned. Without a vaccine, Wise is prohibited from teaching.

“It feels really hurtful not to know if you’re gonna have a roof over your head, if you’re gonna be able to feed your family and yourself,” Wise says. “It feels hurtful to know that you bonded with families and children over the years and we just had to walk out.”

What You Need To Know

  • The city says 95% of full-time staff is vaccinated

  • More than 43,000 doses have been administered to school staff since the mandate was announced in August

  • Unvaccinated educators say they should have a choice between getting the vaccine and weekly COVID testing

Wise joined hundreds of former educators outside Department of Education headquarters in Brooklyn Monday to protest the vaccine mandate.

“In the United States of America, we are born with out own freedoms and one thing we can never get two of is our body,” says Stefanie Deliteris. 

She and her husband are also now former DOE employees after the mandate. She says mask and vaccine mandates are hurting students rather than helping them.

“Our children shouldn’t suffer. They’ve suffered enough to sit in school buildings with masks on. This is not a third world country and they’re taking away our freedoms and at this point enough is enough,” Deliteris says.

Chancellor Mesha Porter calls the vaccine requirement a “bubble of safety around our children in their school buildings” that make New York City schools “the safest places to be.”

Former educators say it’s all about choice, which they feel has been taken away from them because of the mandate; However, last week the U.S. Supreme Court denied a last-ditch request from a group of New York City teachers to intervene. 

“No one here is against vaccine,” says Franctz Conde, a former educator. “Most people here have taken vaccines before. What we are against, however, is being coerced and mandated or bullied into doing so against our will.”

The city says 95% of all full-time staff is vaccinated as of Monday, with 43,000 doses administered since the mandate deadline as announced in August.