As of Tuesday, Oct. 5, about 85% of school safety agents have now been vaccinated under the city’s COVID-19 vaccination deadline for all employees. But, more vaccinations doesn’t necessarily solve the staff shortage that many feared would leave schools without proper security for the return of in-person learning.
There are 4,513 school safety agents currently employed with 3,818 of them vaccinated, said Teamsters Union Local 237 President Gregory Floyd.
Many holdouts have either gotten the shot or chosen to fight for their jobs while on leave, said Floyd.
“No one’s lost their jobs, but they’ve been placed on leave without pay. They have an opportunity to apply for exemptions that are being heard this week with the paperwork or go get vaccinated,” said Floyd.
On Monday, 117 school safety agents opted to get vaccinated rather than take leave, said Floyd.
“Through attrition they lost 1,000 people that were not hired, and retirement, so when the school year began there was a shortage before the mandate,” said Floyd.
The shortage was “created by” the city council and public officials’ decision to stop the hiring of school safety agents last year, and transferring the responsibility of school safety agents to the Department of Education instead of the NYPD didn’t help, said Floyd.
This year there are about 745 fewer school safety agents employed compared to 2020, said Floyd.
He said the shortage certainly “didn’t help” any supposed rise in violence in city schools since the reopening.
A recent “slashing” outside Truman High School in the Bronx is among the growing “acts of violence” that have parents and advocates rattled, reported News12.
Mona Davids, president of the NYC Parents Union, told News12 that the ongoing violence in schools is a crisis and that she fears the violence will get worse without more school safety agents.
“The safety of our students is our first priority, and we are working closely with the NYPD to ensure that every school has coverage by school safety agents. We will continue to closely monitor the situation to ensure that every student has a safe place to learn,” said a DOE spokesman.
Every school has school safety agent coverage based on the need at that school, and the DOE is working with the NYPD to determine what those needs are, continued the DOE spokesman.
Ariama C. Long is a Report for America corps member and writes about culture and politics in New York City for The Amsterdam News. Your donation to match our RFA grant helps keep her writing stories like this one; please consider making a tax-deductible gift of any amount today by visiting: https://tinyurl.com/fcszwj8w