LATHAM, N.Y. (NEWS10) — For those teachers who have not gotten the COVID vaccine, they feel as though they are being placed in a tough position of choosing their livelihood or their personal and/or religious beliefs.
Organizers of a rally on Wednesday in Latham said it was meant to send a signal that unvaccinated educators should not be punished for their choice.
Vicki Savini, an elementary teacher, says for religious reasons, she has not received her vaccine. Or any other vaccine for that matter. Right now, teachers are not mandated to be vaccinated in New York State. Savini worries they will be.
“The reason we are fighting this is because none of us believe that we should be told what to do with their bodies and we don’t think we should be telling people what to do with their children’s bodies,” Savini says.
At the rally, some were holding signs decrying not just vaccines but also weekly COVID testing, which is required for any unvaccinated educator and is supported by the New York State United Teachers, whose parking lot the rally was held in.
Savini believes the union is not listening to unvaccinated teachers. “I’m not really sure the union absolutely knows what’s going on. As teachers who are unvaccinated, you have to test weekly. So we are actually being treated like we are second-class citizens or that we are walking around diseased.”
A spokesman for NYSUT says the rally was not a union-organized event. As far as testing goes for teachers, the union says “we support the state’s policy requiring regular COVID testing for staff who are not yet vaccinated.”
The union also says they continue to advocate for any teacher who wants a vaccine to be able to get one. What they do not support is a vaccine mandate for students and educators.