New York City schools have been temporarily blocked from enforcing a vaccine mandate by a federal appeals judge just three days before it was to take effect.
The worker mandate for the nation’s largest school system was set to go into effect Monday, but a judge for the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals granted a temporary injunction on Friday, and referred the case to a three-judge panel on an expedited basis.
Department of Education spokesperson Danielle Filson told the Associated Press that officials are seeking a speedy resolution by the circuit court next week. “We’re confident our vaccine mandate will continue to be upheld once all the facts have been presented, because that is the level of protection our students and staff deserve,” Filson stated.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) announced in August that all 148,000 New York City Department of Education employees would need to receive at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by Sept. 27. As of Friday, 82% of department employees had been vaccinated, including 88% of teachers, per AP.
Unions representing New York City school employees have been urging de Blasio to delay the mandate, warning that it could leave the school system short of as many as 10,000 teachers. De Blasio maintains that the city is ready, saying: “We’ve been planning all along. We have a lot of substitutes ready,” per AP.
Many unions and critics of mandates have spoken out against required vaccinations, citing personal freedom arguments. Michael Mulgrew, head the United Federation of Teachers – the city’s biggest teacher’s union – said last month: “While the city is asserting its legal authority to establish this mandate, there are many implementation details, including provisions for medical exceptions, that by law must be negotiated with the UFT and other unions, and if necessary, resolved by arbitration.”
De Blasio has resisted calls to delay the mandate, insisting the city was ready. “We’ve been planning all along. We have a lot of substitutes ready,” De Blasio said in a radio interview on Friday. “A lot is going to happen between now and Monday but beyond that, we are ready, even to the tune of, if we need thousands, we have thousands.”