New York City students first lost in-person instruction last spring thanks to the pandemic.
Thanks to the United Federation of Teachers’ threats — and the city’s apparent inability to keep proper vaccination records — kids are still not back in the classroom full-time.
What’s going on?
One of the union’s demands to get teachers back into classrooms daily was for the city to prioritize educators for COVID-19 vaccinations, which the city agreed to. New York City Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza announced Jan. 10 that teachers and education workers would be prioritized for vaccinations and urged all education employees to make appointments to get their shots.
With that, calls for teachers to get back to in-classroom work forthwith began to ring out.
But the UFT wasn’t done with its threats, saying that a potential shortage of vaccine supplies (as well as unwillingness on the part of teachers) could force a delay in returning to classrooms — and not just this year, but even next September, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.
UFT President Michael Mulgrew told the Journal that the timing of the union’s agreement to go back to school partially depends on the number of teachers who are both able and willing to get vaccinated.
“Whatever happens this school year, happens,” Mulgrew said. “But I want to be fully open in September, and I can’t guarantee that right now.”
The union admitted that it needs not only more supplies but more willingness from teachers to get vaccinated to make the back-to-school plan work.
But now there’s a problem.
If returning to full-time in-person instruction is contingent upon teachers getting the vaccination, the school system needs to know how many educators have received their shots. However, the city can’t say how many teachers have been vaccinated because officials haven’t bothered to keep track, the New York Post reported Monday night.
On Jan. 11, one day after Chancellor Carranza’s teacher vaccination announcement, the UFT said that 17,000 teachers requested the shot within 24 hours of its announced availability.
And that’s the last figure reported by either the union or Gotham’s city hall.
According to the Post, the city has 75,000 classroom teachers and another 25,000 unionized staffers — and no one seems to know how many of them have actually been inoculated.
City Hall told the Post that the figures are still being tabulated because officials have yet to break down vaccination rates by worker group.
Because the shots are not mandatory for teachers and keeping track of the rate of inoculations wasn’t a priority for the city government, parents still have no idea when their kids will be back to school.