A panel of judges in New York City just gave the legal go-ahead for the city to impose a vaccine mandate for all teachers. The judges were from the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan, and they delivered a brief to both teachers and staff in the nation’s largest public school system. This allowance came after the order had been temporarily blocked by the court.
CNBC reported that after an adverse ruling from a judge in Brooklyn, there was a group of teachers who brought the case to an appeals court. They assigned a three-judge panel to hear oral arguments on Wednesday. Then on Monday, the panel gave their order after written arguments had been submitted.
The lawyer who brought the case on behalf of the teachers and others who were fighting against the mandate said that he and another attorney would take the case to the Supreme Court.
Attorney Mark Fonte, along with his fellow attorney Louis Gelormino, said that right now the mandate is in place. He also noted that because there were thousands of teachers who were not vaccinated, the city may regret their actions. Fonte warned that children may be left with no teachers and no security in the system.
It was in August that Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio, along with other officials, announced a new health care mandate that required all New York City Department of Education employees to provide proof of the first dose of vaccination by September 27th.
De Blasio said, “Keeping our students and staff healthy is our top priority. To keep our schools healthy and safe, we are now requiring all Department of Education staff to have at least one dose of the vaccine by September 27. Together, we will create a safe and welcoming school experience for our kids.”
The mandate is in place to be effective next week and the deadline for all employees to be vaccinated will go into effect at the end of the day on Friday.
A spokesperson for the Department of Education reportedly said, “Vaccinations are our strongest tool in the fight against COVID-19 – this ruling is on the right side of the law and will protect our students and staff.”
That spokesperson also noted that the mandate will go into effect on Friday and that by Monday, October 4th, there should be 100% of educators and staff in our buildings that will be vaccinated.
With New York City in such limelight, there are other cities and counties that are watching to see what their local governments might implement in other jurisdictions. There have been some union leaders who have asked the NYC mayor to delay enforcing the order. They are looking at staffing issues due to unvaccinated staff no longer being able to work. But de Blasio has pushed back against the delay of the mandate and has indicated that he is sure they will have the necessary supply of staff.
In fact, The New York Times reported that Mayor de Blasio said about 97% of principals and about 95% of teachers had already been vaccinated according to estimates from the city and unions. He also indicated that 87% of non-teaching school staff had received at least one shot. There were approximately 8,000 Department of Education employees who received a vaccination dose over the weekend before the deadline hit.
The lawyers for teachers argued Monday in the papers submitted to the 2nd Circuit that teachers who are placed on unpaid leave because they have not obeyed the order will be irreparably harmed if the appeals court did not block the mandate.
The lawyers wrote that the city’s order will leave teachers and paraprofessionals without the resources to pay rent, utilities, and other essentials.