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.”
Other charter networks had not implemented a vaccination requirement for students this school year. AP Photo/Jeenah Moon
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.”