BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) — With the Delta Variant spreading rapidly across the Western New York region, school leaders have been stressing the importance of vaccines for teachers, staff and eligible students.
Governor Kathy Hochul says the state would also like to see a vaccine mandate for school employees. But the governor doesn't have the executive power to mandate vaccines in schools and is working with school leaders and school boards to map out plans.
We spoke about a vaccine mandate with Niagara Falls City Schools Superintendent Mark Laurrie, Starpoint Schools Superintendent Sean Croft and Springville-Griffith Schools Superintendent Kimberly Moritz, who say there are union hurdles for vaccine mandate.
“The governor has now suggested create a vaccine mandate for teachers,” Buckley asks.
“It would need to be negotiated — I have five bargaining units here. I’m sure these gentlemen have several bargaining units in their districts and so it's not something that's as easy as it sounds when the governor says well schools should just mandate that,” Moritz responded.
“I personally feel when you mandate things like that, you'll get commitment but you'll also get argument — dissension, lawsuits and others,” replied Laurrie.
Superintendent Croft agrees and says they've also worked to make sure teachers and staff are already vaccinated.
“We’ve done a good job of just making it available — spreading education to our employees — letting them know where they can get vaccinated and they've appreciate that,” Croft remarked.
The Hamburg, Williamsville and Alden school superintendents also joined our roundtable discussion on the vaccine mandate topic.
“Is that something that you support — mandatory vaccines?" Buckley questioned.
“The thought of everybody being required to be vaccinated — I think that is something everybody is going to have work through,” answered Adam Stoltman, superintendent, Alden Schools.
“We have good majority of our teachers and our administrators who are already vaccinated, so I would be interested to see what type of push Governor Hochul would insist in order to get that number closer to 100-percent,” said Dr. Darren Brown-Hall, superintendent, Williamsville Schools.
“I would bet 75 to 80 percent of our school employees are vaccinated — probably ten percent higher than the general population. From a public health perspective, it would be interesting to see exactly — what they would do, like Darren said to kind of push that higher,” stated Michael Cornell, superintendent, Hamburg Schools.
60-percent of all eligible New Yorkers are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19.