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Monday, June 20, 2022

Success Academy Removes Vaccine Protocols For Students


Success Academy's roughly 20,000 students will no longer have to be vaccinated or take
a weekly COVID-19 test.

If you are a parent or student who is serious about getting a good education, choose a charter school.

Comment from teacher Diane Pagen:

To the Editor,

Success Academy schools have beaten out the NYC Department of Education in making the realization that making students take the Covid19 vaccine is a terrible policy that parents and kids don't want. Huge credit for this policy victory goes to anti-mandate activists (many who were fired by the City for not getting vaccinated) who for the past six months have done outreach outside of both DOE and Success Academy schools at dismissal. These activists helped parents to connect to other parents and organize against the vaccine mandate and the relentless promotion of the vaccines to children during the school day. The vaccine mandate created an atmosphere in which unvaccinated parents and students were made to feel left out and bullied, while kids who got the vaccine were given prizes and free stuff and praise. I am so glad to know that at least at Success Academy, these mandates for kids are now a thing of the past. 

The Chancellor of NYC Schools and our Mayor now need to do the same, because as we all know, there is never any situation where bullying is okay. Eventually, too, all our children deserve an apology.

The next step is to cease the bullying and coercion campaign that we employees of all our schools, whether charter or DOE, have endured this whole school year and that continues now--the employee vaccine mandate, which the Mayor, the Commissioner of Health and the Chancellor have used as a justification to take our incomes, refuse to pay us Unemployment, slander us in the press, and ultimately to fire us, which the Chancellor and Mayor did with no legitimate cause, in February.

Betsy Combier
Editor, ADVOCATZ Blog

Success Academy to lift student COVID-19 vaccine mandate

New York City’s largest charter school network, Success Academy, is doing away with its pandemic protocols for students, The Post has learned.

Beginning in the fall, the network’s roughly 20,000 students will no longer have to be vaccinated or take weekly COVID-19 tests, and will be able to participate in most clubs regardless of their inoculation status.

“We remain steadfast in our overall goal of protesting the health and safety of our community while remaining open for in-person learning,” read a memo to families obtained by The Post.

The announcement came after more than 1,000 parents and guardians engaged in a months-long campaign of writing letters and signing petitions against the mandates, organizers said.

“I will highlight that we stay with SA because of the high quality of teaching and curriculum. The teachers and curriculum planners deserve recognition and complements. This is why we wanted our children to attend SA,” wrote one parent to school administrators.

“From an academic perspective our children have thrived. But from a social perspective, they have been bullied and mistreated by the administration,” the parent said of unvaccinated students.

Two thirds of the students, called “scholars,” are already at least partially vaccinated against COVID-19, according to school data.

But those who were not had to sit on the sidelines at some after-school activities.

Upper West Side dad Bill White said two of his three children, ages 7 and 9, who are students at Success Academy, were axed from their soccer and theater programs over the winter, when the mandate went into effect.

“They were upset, and missed doing those things tremendously. It was a difficult conversation that I had to have with them,” said White.  

“The most screwy thing of it all is they participated in electives that took place during school, but couldn’t participate in clubs after school,” he added. “But now they were very excited and looking forward to getting back into it.” 

Success Academy, which runs 47 schools in the New York-area, told The Post the network would still encourage vaccination and keep rapid tests in their schools. Staff are still required to get vaccinated against the virus.

School officials on Monday continued to tout the network’s health and safety record throughout the pandemic.

“For the sake of public health, Success Academy arranged for schools to offer Covid vaccinations when the city was slow to respond,” said Ann Powell, a spokesperson for the network. “We maintained a strong vaccination and test policy during the most urgent phase of the pandemic. “

“This past year SA was able to keep all our schools open, and our positivity rate consistently below the city’s, with no evidence of in-school transmission,” she added.

In non-charter public schools, more than 60% of students have received at least one dose of the vaccine, according to the most recent data.

But those figures can vary from school to school. Some of the most vaccinated student populations, predominantly in Manhattan, have upwards of 90% of children inoculated against the virus, a Post analysis of city data showed. But at some schools including several in Brooklyn, fewer than a quarter of students have gotten their first dose.

Teachers and staff employed by the Department of Education are required to be vaccinated with some exceptions. Unvaccinated employees are expected to have a shot later this summer at getting their jobs back — if they get the jab.

Other charter networks had not implemented a vaccination requirement for students this school year.

“We don’t have a requirement for students but we encourage all families and students eligible to become vaccinated,” said Barbara Martinez at Uncommon Schools, a charter network with locations in New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts.

All teachers and staff are required to be vaccinated as a condition of employment at the network.

Achievement First, which operates charter schools in New York, Connecticut and Rhode Island, did not have a student vaccine mandate this school year. 

“The health and safety of our staff and scholars are paramount at Achievement First,” said Ezra Paganelli of the network’s chief of staff office. “In the current school year we had a vaccine requirement for all staff, and followed the state’s guidance for scholar vaccination.

“We are still in process of making our policies for the coming school year.”

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