Almost three-quarters of Boston city employees provided proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test during the first phase of the tenure


Employees who fail to comply could potentially be put on unpaid leave – a decision the city has yet to make. The City’s human resources team and an outside contractor are still reviewing the hundreds of documents that were submitted among the first wave of employees.

Under the mandate, employees are not required to be vaccinated, but those who are not must submit a negative test result to the city every week once their respective city agencies have reached the deadline to comply. . Employees who test positive must notify the city and follow quarantine protocols.

“As the city’s largest employer, the city of Boston is leading by example with progressive vaccination or a regular screening warrant,” said a city spokesperson. “We are working closely with our diverse workforce and union partners to ensure employees have access to immunization, testing and verification systems in order to fully comply with the mandate.”

The city is moving forward with the requirement as similar mandates elsewhere have sparked protests from public service employees. In a few instances, the opposition has resulted in lawsuits, including an unsuccessful local led by the Massachusetts State Police Union against the Baker administration and another in New York by a group of public educators, which is still making its way to Federal Court.

Bringing the first set of municipal services in Boston into compliance, however, is proving to be a huge undertaking. Boston Public Schools is the city’s largest department, employing 11,000 workers. Other municipal agencies in the first wave include the Commission on Disabilities, the Age Strong office, and public libraries, all of which work with vulnerable residents of the city.

Employees in this first phase were expected to submit proof of vaccination by September 20. For those who had not, they had to provide a negative test result for COVID-19 by Monday.

The second wave of employees are due to deliver vaccine documents next Monday, October 4. This group includes on-site volunteers and contractors who work with vulnerable residents, including school bus drivers, as well as employees of other agencies who work directly with the general public. , including public security and the city registry. The latest wave of employees has until October 18 to comply.

So far, 13,000 city employees have submitted documents or a negative test result for COVID-19 since the city launched its online portal on August 30. The city said it was unable to provide a breakdown of compliance rates by department.

For many Boston families and educators, having all Boston public school workers vaccinated is seen as especially important in helping to prevent COVID-19 infections from spreading to unvaccinated children.

Currently, children under 12 are not yet eligible for vaccines, making up about half of the school system’s student population, while a number of older students are not vaccinated. This landscape puts them at higher risk for the highly contagious Delta variant, which has increased infection rates in children and adolescents across the country in recent months.

Adding further complications, Boston schools, like many other districts, no longer practice social distancing in many cases, so its 51,000 students can comply with the state’s mandate to return to classrooms. full time class this fall. The school system, however, has taken other measures to protect students and staff, such as improving ventilation and equipping classrooms with air purifiers and window fans.

The vaccination effort in Boston has not been smooth. Some teachers have encountered technical difficulties uploading their immunization documents to the city’s online portal or receiving confirmation that their documentation has been received or verified, while others have been confused about the mandate requirements, according to the Boston Teachers Union.

Another problem is that the city has sent reminder about staying within the mandate to members who are on sick leave or other types of leave. The union argues that since these employees are not currently at work, they should not be subject to the warrant until their return and could also unnecessarily inflate the number of unvaccinated workers.

Therefore, the union asks the City to refrain from taking punitive action against the employees until they confirm the accuracy of the information for these people.

“I think the city is doing the right thing [in mandating vaccinations] and it was an ambitious schedule to comply, especially at the start of a school year when there are so many other demands placed on educators to start school, ”said Jessica Tang, union president, in an interview before the data was released. “I know our educators have worked diligently to meet expectations and we hope the city can continue to improve and streamline the process.”

Xavier Andrews, a spokesperson for the school, said the department had sent out several emails, texts and robocalls to remind its 11,000 employees of the deadline to comply with the mandate and had translated the information on the requirements into Spanish and Haitian Creole.

In order to speed up document collection, the school system has also deployed staff to its central kitchen and other regional centers to help collect verification documents or to help employees upload them to the school’s computer system. city. The school system has also been running vaccination clinics since the spring, including dozens at back-to-school events, with more planned for the coming weeks.

James Vaznis can be contacted at [email protected] Follow him on twitter @globevaznis.


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