2021-09-25 16:04:40 N.Y.C.’s Vaccine Mandate for Teachers Is Delayed by a Court

N.Y.C.’s Vaccine Mandate for Teachers Is Delayed by a Court

After a federal appeals court granted a temporary injunction on Friday, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration was temporarily barred from enforcing a vaccine mandate for nearly all adults in New York City public school buildings.

The mandate, which affects over 150,000 employees in the nation’s largest school system, was set to take effect on Monday at midnight. Educators, parents, and union officials have been bracing for staffing shortages and disruption in at least some schools where a significant number of educators and staff members have not been vaccinated.

The injunction was granted on a temporary basis by a judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, who referred the case to a panel of three judges for review. City officials predicted that the review and ruling would take place in the coming days, possibly even over the weekend, and that the mandate would be upheld. However, it is unclear whether the problem will be resolved before the Monday deadline.

After considering a separate but similar lawsuit filed by a coalition of unions representing employees in public schools, a State Supreme Court judge ruled last week that the city could proceed with the mandate. Laurence Love, the judge, stated that state and federal courts have consistently upheld mandatory vaccination orders.

On Thursday, a federal judge in Brooklyn, Brian M. Cogan, denied a group of teachers’ request for an injunction, calling the mandate “a rational policy decision regarding how best to protect children during a global pandemic.” The teachers then successfully appealed to the Court of Appeals.

At least 90% of teachers and 95% of principals have already been immunized. Staff members in school buildings have a lower rate — around 82 percent.

The leaders of the city’s teacher and principal unions have urged Mr. de Blasio to postpone the mandate’s implementation, claiming that schools are unprepared to deal with staffing shortages.

The mandate, announced last month, requires all educators, as well as staff members such as custodians, school lunch helpers, and safety agents, to receive at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine by Monday night. It is the first vaccine mandate that does not allow for a test-out period for any group of city workers.

“We are confident that our vaccine mandate will be upheld once all of the facts are presented, because that is the level of protection our students and staff deserve,” said Danielle Filson, a spokeswoman for the Department of Education, in a statement.

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N.Y.C.'s Vaccine Mandate for Teachers Is Delayed by a Court