Staff shortages are creating chaos for some NYC children

Staff shortages caused by the thousands of unvaccinated teachers and staff who were out of work on Monday wreaked havoc at some city schools, where students skipped mandated services or were taught by inexperienced teachers.

At PS 204 in Bensonhurst and PS 185 in Bay Ridge, there were no speech specialists. At IS 61 in Corona, students who needed occupational therapy did not get it.

The music teacher on PS 188 on Coney Island taught a general education, and a gym teacher who was excused from teaching at a medical residence sat in the gym while the students received their physical education in a classroom.

The scenarios were among more than 50 delivered to The Post by a teacher who this week gathered them from colleagues who wished to remain anonymous.

About 8,000 employees of the Ministry of Education, including about 3,000 teachers, had refused to receive their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine from October 4 to comply with the city mandate.

Deputies and in some cases “qualified” staff in the central office had to fill.

Meisha Ross
School Chancellor Meisha Ross Porter has downplayed the shortage of staff.
Paul Martinka

Another 2,000 school workers had been stabbed since Monday, Mayor de Blasio said.

“We get the teachers where we need them and the substitutes where we need them,” de Blasio said Friday.

School Chancellor Meisha Ross Porter downplayed the shortage of staff, especially among paraprofessionals, who are often tasked with helping special education students, saying only “a fraction” of the 23,000 couples in the system were unvaccinated.

But parents and advocates said the shortage had a major impact.

Mother Jessica Waverka tweeted about “the panic over my child with special needs this morning when his para without warning is absent. When no one knows his routine. Alone. Frightened. Does that sound dramatic? Nothing. “

The quality of education was “down,” said Erika Newsome, co-chair of the Citywide Council on Special Education. Substitutes cycling in and out of classes were unable to focus on the individualized education plans for each special education student, she added.

Protesters demonstrate against the mandate of teachers and staff at New York City Schools
About 8,000 employees of the Ministry of Education, including about 3,000 teachers, had refused to receive their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on 4 October.
REUTERS / Brendan McDermid

“These teachers do not have the time and energy – especially when some of our children have IEPs of up to 16 pages – to actually read some of it and then implement what needs to be implemented in the classroom,” she said. “They really just make the lesson plan they can.”

Carolyn Castro, whose 8-year-old son attends Central Park East 2 School in Manhattan, said his occupational therapist informed her Monday that she was on “temporary leave.”

“I do not know if it is vaccination related or not,” Castro said.

She said there was no compensation and her son did not receive his therapy twice a week.

At PS 121 in South Ozone Park, some substitutes in special education classes were not certified to teach special education. Similar situations were reported at other schools across the city, according to posts from educators.

And on IS 24 on Staten Island, paraprofessionals who were to see a student were told to double down.

A math teacher at a Brooklyn school who was not vaccinated and is on leave reported that the classes were covered by a substitute for two days “who was afraid of math assignments in middle school” and told the principal that it was “a bear service for students to put her in middle school math classes. ”

The DOE said Friday it had about 7,000 “qualified” substitute teachers and paras in schools, and it had increased its pool of substitute paras by 1,300 since Sept. 29.

“All students must have access to the services they are entitled to, and we are rapidly bringing in qualified reinforcements to ensure schools have adequate staffing coverage,” said DOE spokeswoman Katie O’Hanlon.

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