The New York City Department of Education fired 850 teachers and other school staffers this month for refusing to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
Reportedly, about 1,300 Department of Education employees who took a year of unpaid leave with benefits agreed to show proof of their COVID-19 vaccine by Sept. 5 or be “deemed to have voluntarily resigned,” the New York Post reported.
Of that number, about 450 got vaccinated by the deadline and are “returning to their prior school or work locations,” including 225 teachers and 135 other staffers.
The 850 teachers who lost their jobs makes about 1,950 Department of Education staffers terminated since the vaccine mandate went into effect almost a year ago.
Rachelle Garcia, who was an elementary school teacher in Brooklyn for 15 years, told The Post that she worked fully in person during the pandemic and never got COVID-19. She refused to get vaccinated and took leave after the DOE denied her requests for religious exemption.
Garcia said she was “hoping and praying at the last minute that our mayor would turn everything around in time for me to go back to work.”
“I’m angry, I’m hurt, to be cast aside like I was nothing. Because I couldn’t give a proper goodbye to my students, other teachers told me they kept asking, ‘When is Ms. Garcia coming back?’ That made me cry so much,” she added.
Casey McFadden, a licensed math teacher, told Fox News that she came out of retirement to teach. She was fired for not getting vaccinated.
“I came out of retirement to help the city of New York, because I love this city,” she said. “I’m a licensed math teacher. They always had a shortage of math teachers. So who in their right mind would let go of a math teacher?”
A NYC teacher fired for not getting the Covid vaccine: “I came out of retirement to help the city of New York, because I love this city… I’m a licensed math teacher. They always had a shortage of math teachers. So who in their right mind would let go of a math teacher?” pic.twitter.com/aeQjNtSyNN
— Washington Free Beacon (@FreeBeacon) September 19, 2022
Townhall reported this month how school districts all across the country are experiencing teacher shortages. A recent report from The Salt Lake Tribune explained that the shortage of teachers in Utah is making it “incredibly challenging to operate” and staff are asked to take on extra duties, which leads to higher resignation rates, heightening the problem However, the government allocated COVID-19 relief funds to help this issue.
American Rescue Plans funds, including Elementary and Secondary Schools Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds and Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF), were encouraged to be used to address teacher shortages – an issue that contributed to a teacher strike in Kent, Washington.
In guidance released by the U.S. Department of Education. In the guidance, the U.S. Department of Education recommended that SLFRF funds be used to rehire public sector workers up to pre-pandemic levels and provide assistance to “disproportionately impacted schools,” such as school districts with high rates of poverty, or used to expand early learning services and practices that address different social, emotional and academic needs for students.
The guidance pointed out how specific school districts across the nation used the funds to navigate a teacher shortage, such as rehiring retired teachers, having “resident visiting teachers” on standby, rolling out pay raises to retain teachers, offering bonuses for qualified individuals who obtain a substitute teaching license and creating sign-on bonuses for new teachers.
And, in December, Education Secretary Miguel Cardone urged school districts to act with “urgency” to use the COVID-19 relief funds to retain teachers and hire more staff.
“ARP provides vital resources to hire additional educators and school staff and to improve compensation to recruit and retain educators and school staff. School districts should act with urgency to keep schools open for in-person learning and ensure they do not waste this opportunity to make critical investments,” the letter said.
According to the NYC school district’s website, there are over 1 million students, making it one of the largest in the United States.
This month, Leah covered a new federal report that showed that students suffered irreparable learning loss in the past two years due to the disruptions caused by the pandemic.
According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, math and reading scores among 9-year-olds fell across all race and income levels in the past two years, though they were significantly worse among low-ranking students. Those in the 90th percentile showed a 3 percent drop in math scores, while students in the 10th percentile fell 12 points. Average 9-year-old scores declined the most on record for math (seven points) and in reading since 1990 (five points).
Townhall has also covered lower academic performance, chronic absenteeism and mental health challenges that have become prevalent among students since the pandemic. This year, a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study found that more than 40 percent of teenagers felt “sad” or “hopeless” during the pandemic. Last month, 50,000 students in Los Angeles were absent on the first day of school.