Jersey City Education Association President Ron Greco says the city needs to do better with COVID-19 vaccinations for teachers, with a city official wholeheartedly disagreeing, claiming that they’ve gone above and beyond expectations.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
Greco called yesterday’s press event at Ferris High School “a dog and pony show” since many school district employees are still waiting for an appointment, also expressing discontent over a new COVID-19 site at Temple Beth-El.
“I know everyone’s working hard and this is a huge undertaking … They have to vaccinate as many as possible, but don’t make the statement that this week is solely for the school staff if it’s not,” he said over the phone.
“We have loads of people waiting for appointments … They’re saying one thing and doing another.”
An email from yesterday shows that the city’s health department is helping set up appointments at Temple Beth-El, located at 2419 John F. Kennedy Boulevard, which they also helped facilitate last month, according to a Google Doc.
Jersey City has one of the 10 vaccination sites that opened thanks to FEMA, Gov. Phil Murphy (D) announced in late February, which local officials reiterated earlier this month without naming a specific location.
The latest snafu between Greco and the administration comes after The Jersey Journal reported that teachers expecting to be vaccinated on Saturday had to be rescheduled for Monday after the vaccination appointment schedule was “hacked by some volunteers.”
City spokeswoman Kimberly Wallace-Scalcione repeated today what she and Mayor Steven Fulop have said often over the past week or so: that all of Jersey City’s COVID-19 vaccine doses this week will go towards teachers and staff.
She also called the Temple Beth-El operation a “completely separate” program being run by FEMA that is offering vaccinations (2,200 for this week) for all eligible populations.
” … The vaccinations being offered through Temple Beth-El are part of a completely separate FEMA program run by the federal government which Jersey City was chosen to host because of the City’s close relationships with the faith-based community and the great work being done here, and those vaccines are explicitly allocated to that program, not for the city to use,” she said, calling it “a blatant lie” that many teachers are awaiting appointments.
The Jersey City Public Schools have about 4,700 employees and around 1,600 have signed up to be contacted by the city’s health department for a COVID-19 vaccination appointment (and all have been contacted), Wallace-Scalcione added, noting that the supply is far greater than the demand.
Additionally, Fulop said yesterday that Ferris High School and Public School No. 26 would be the two sites where teachers and staff would be vaccinated, with the city having nearly 5,000 vaccines to administer this week.
Despite being challenged on his claims, Greco doubled down.
“We have plenty of employees waiting for their appointments: that’s a fact … if [Fulop’s] department of health had the courtesy to reach out to us, we could work together, but working together is never on his agenda.”
The current plan is for the Jersey City Public Schools to resume in-person learning by their fourth marking period, as Superintendent of Schools Franklin Walker said on Sunday, with a target date of April 22nd now in mind.