from 21st Century Wire:
NEW YORK (AP) — New York City schools have been temporarily blocked from enforcing a vaccine mandate for its teachers and other workers by a federal appeals judge just days before it was to take effect.
The worker mandate for the the nation’s largest school system was set to go into effect Monday. But late Friday, a judge for the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals granted a temporary injunction and referred the case to a three-judge panel an an expedited basis.
Department of Education spokesperson Danielle Filson said officials are seeking a speedy resolution by the circuit court next week.
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“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 said in an email.
She said more than 82% of department employees have been vaccinated.
While most school workers have been vaccinated, unions representing New York City principals and teachers warned that could still leave the 1 million-student school system short of as many as 10,000 teachers, along with other staffers, such as cafeteria workers and school police officers.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has resisted calls to delay the mandate.
Earlier this week, A New York judge lifted the temporary pause on the vaccine mandate for NYC teachers, saying they must be vaccinated by Monday or lose their jobs. Read the judge’s decision (.pdf), CBS News reported:
“When we had the COVID outbreak it was very, very scary, even for us the health care workers. So I think people should be vaccinated,” health care worker Marita Edet said.
But many disagreed. Seventeen health care workers filed lawsuits and several municipal unions sued the city, saying the mandate violates constitutional rights and that it shouldn’t be a condition of employment.
“I think it’s not right that they demand that. It’s freedom of speech. It’s freedom of religion. It should be freedom of choice,” said Caroline Dipilato, who works in a school.
In separate court rulings, judges temporarily halted the mandatory vaccines until Wednesday. But on Wednesday, one court ruled in de Blasio’s favor, making it mandatory for teachers.
As CBS2’s Dick Brennan reports, Manhattan Judge Lawrence Love ruled “state and federal courts have consistently held that a mandatory vaccine requirement does not violate substantive due process rights” and challenges from a coalition of public sector unions that filed a lawsuit “will be unable to establish a likelihood of ultimate success on the merits” of their case.
“Everyone understands what happens if you’re not vaccinated in time, what the penalties are. I don’t expect a lot of people want to experience those penalties,” de Blasio said.
There have also been staffing concerns if employees refuse to get at least one shot by the deadline – Monday.
But Gov. Kathy Hochul said hospitals have emergency plans in place, and de Blasio says there will be no shortage of teachers.
“We have a huge corps of vaccinated substitutes ready to move in,” de Blasio said.