A group of New York City public school teachers on Thursday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene in the city’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for employees, saying the directive violates their due process and equal protection rights.
"If permitted to take effect, the August 23 Order will force thousands of unvaccinated public-school employees to lose their jobs — while other municipal employees, including those who have significant contact with children, are allowed to opt-out of the vaccine mandate through weekly COVID-19 testing," the petition said.
"There's 28,000 teachers and DOE employees that are not vaccinated and none of them are conspiracy theorists, none of them are anti-government," Louis Gelormino, attorney for the NYC teachers, told Fox 5. "Most of them just want to make their own choice."
A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit earlier this week ruled that the mandate can proceed as scheduled, reversing a decision made over the weekend that postponed enforcement until later this week at the earliest.
More than 150,000 educators and staff in the nation’s largest school system were originally ordered to receive at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by Monday night, but Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday that he would extend the deadline until the end of the day Friday, meaning the mandate would take effect Oct. 4.
Union leaders have called on de Blasio to extend the deadline in anticipation of staff and teacher shortages. Roughly 97% of principals and about 95% of teachers had been vaccinated as of Monday evening, according to de Blasio.
"While a temporary interruption of work is not actionable, the mandate here would have a permanent effect: it is open-ended, where if a teacher never gets vaccinated, he or she will never be able to return to work," the petition said.
The unvaccinated teachers are asking instead for weekly testing, saying there is no basis to require vaccination in lieu of weekly testing.
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