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New York Mandate Podcast
New York Mandate Podcast, Ep. 17: Special Education Teacher Christina

New York Mandate Podcast, Ep. 17: Special Education Teacher Christina

“I'm praying I get to go back”: A conversation with Christina, who taught children with significant disabilities until she was put on unpaid leave due to NYC's vaccine mandate for teachers.

“Right now they're doing things little by little. They're slowly taking away certain freedoms. Everyone said, ‘Oh no, they would never do that. They would never, they would never!’ But little by little, they are doing it. So they're making people comfortable. They make you just uncomfortable enough where you won't complain about it, and you can learn to live with it. And then once you learn to live with that, they do it again. And they slowly are taking everything.” - Christina

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In this episode of the New York Mandate podcast, I talk with Christina, who has been teaching since 2012. She was working at a middle school for children with significant disabilities when the vaccine mandate for teachers was rolled out.

Christina was told that as a Catholic, she shouldn’t bother applying for a religious exemption. She applied for a medical accommodation because she was pregnant, and was denied. Then she was told she no longer had the option of applying for a religious exemption. At the end of September 2021, she was put on a leave without pay that expires in September 2022.

Christina talked with me about the restrictive terms of her unpaid leave status, how her union failed to represent her, and how she, her husband, and their new baby had to give up their apartment and move in with her parents instead of buying a home of their own.

She also talked about why leaving teaching behind is unthinkable for her, the pervasive corruption she sees at play, and what her options may be after her unpaid leave expires next month.

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Here are some links related to things we talked about during the episode:

NYC District 75 Schools
District 75 schools provide highly specialized instructional support for students with significant challenges, such as autism spectrum disorders, significant cognitive delays, emotional disturbances, and sensory impairments.

New York State Alternate Assessment
This state assessment test allows students with severe cognitive disabilities to demonstrate their performance toward achieving the New York State learning standards for English Language Arts (ELA), Mathematics, and Science.

Title 1 and Focus Schools
Title 1 schools serve a large number of lower-income students, and Focus schools have been identified as having poor performance.

The Self-Service Online Leave Application System (SOLAS) is the online system that New York City Department of Education employees use for the leave application process.

New York Mandate Podcast, Ep. 6: Attorney Sujata Gibson
Civil rights attorney Sujata Gibson is representing plaintiffs in the lawsuit from which judges recused themselves after having been discovered to own Pfizer stock. She discussed the issue in our conversation here.

United Federation of Teachers
The UFT is the union that represents teachers in the New York City public school system.

New York City Department of Education
The DOE manages New York City’s public school system, which is the largest in the United States.

Announcement of NYC Department of Education Employee Vaccine Mandate
This is the August 23, 2021, announcement of the vaccine mandate for New York City Department of Education employees by then Mayor Bill de Blasio, Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter and Health Commissioner Dave Chokshi.

Order of the Commissioner of Health and Mental Hygiene to Require COVID-19 Vaccination for City Employees and Certain City Contractors
This is the order that former Health Commissioner Dave Chokshi issued on October 20, 2021 requiring New York City municipal employees and contractors, including teachers, to be vaccinated.

Order of the Commissioner of Health and Mental Hygiene to Require COVID-19 Vaccination in the Workplace
This is the order that former Health Commissioner Dave Chokshi issued on December 13, 2021 requiring all workers in New York City who work in a workplace or interact with other workers or the public to be vaccinated.

NYC Vaccination Requirement: Workplaces
This is where you can find current information on New York City’s workplace vaccination requirements.

About the New York Mandate Podcast

The New York Mandate Podcast is an ongoing series of conversations exploring the costs and consequences of vaccine mandates in New York City. I’ll be talking with workers who have been directly affected by the mandates, as well as legal and policy experts.

In late 2021, the city introduced a series of requirements for workers to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. These requirements were put in place through executive orders issued by the administration of former mayor Bill de Blasio.

Current mayor Eric Adams continues to support the mandates, and they now extend to most working people in the city of New York. Private sector employers are required to affirm that their employees have been vaccinated, and public sector employees of city agencies have been terminated or put on unpaid leave for failing to comply with the vaccine requirement.

The views expressed in the New York Mandate podcast are the personal opinions of the people speaking, and are not intended to provide medical or legal advice.

Join the Conversation

Have you lost your job, been put on leave, or lost opportunities to work as an independent contractor as a result of your decision not to comply with a New York vaccine mandate? Did you take a vaccine against your wishes in order to keep your job? Please get in touch with me at

No One You Know
New York Mandate Podcast
Conversations with New Yorkers who are bearing the costs and consequences of New York's COVID-19 vaccine mandates.