A federal appeals court on Friday granted a temporary injunction on New York City’s mandate that all adults in the public school system have at least one dose of the three available COVID-19 vaccines as of Monday.
According to the city’s Department of Education, all employees must show proof of having at least one dose of the Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson vaccine after midnight Monday, or they will be “removed from payroll beginning Tuesday” unless they have an “approved vaccine exemption,” or are on unpaid leave.
A judge for the U.S. District Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, however, issued a temporary injunction on the mandate and has referred the case to a three-judge panel for review, and expects a decision to possibly come down before the Monday deadline, according to a story in the New York Times Saturday.
A coalition of unions representing the estimated 150,000 employees impacted by the mandate are suing the district to overturn the requirement.
According to the Times story, about 90% of teachers and 95% of principals are vaccinated, but the rate for general staff is lower at about 82%.
The unions suing are concerned that the strict mandate will lead to a staffing crunch for the largest school district in the country with more than 1 million students and a $38 billion budget for this year.
They have asked Mayor Bill de Blasio to delay implementing the ban so the district can prepare for the potential shortage of teachers and staff.
A state court upheld the mandate last week, saying that it is likely to be approved in further legal proceedings because state and federal courts have typically upheld vaccine mandates in the past.
The DOE said in a statement that it believes the mandate will withstand legal review.
“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,” a spokeswoman for the Department of Education, Danielle Filson, said in a statement.
As the delta variant of the COVID-19 virus continues to surge throughout the country, political leaders including President Joe Biden, have continued to appeal to the unvaccinated to get the shots.
“So, let me be clear: Yes, we’ve made incredible progress in vaccinating Americans, with over 182 million people being fully vaccinated as of today,” Biden said Sept. 24.
“But this is a pandemic of the unvaccinated. And it’s caused by the fact that, despite Americans having an unprecedented and successful vaccination program, despite the fact that for almost five months, free vaccines have been available in 80,000 locations, we still have — we still have over 70 million Americans who have failed to get a single shot. And to make matters worse, there are elected officials actively working to undermine with false information the fight against COVID-19. This is totally unacceptable.”
He said the 25% of the country that is still unvaccinated is “doing an awful lot of damage,” and are mainly responsible for the overcrowding some hospitals and emergency rooms are now facing.
“Their refusal has cost all of us,” he said. “The refusal to get vaccinated has cost all of us. And I’m moving forward with vaccination requirements wherever I can. These requirements will cover two thirds of all workers in America.”
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