A federal judge blocks the vaccination mandate for teachers in New York

By Michael Hill – The Associated Press

A federal appeals judge has temporarily prevented New York City schools from implementing a vaccination requirement for teachers and other workers, a few days before the deadline.

Starting Monday, workers in the nation’s largest school system were required to present proof of vaccination. But on Friday night, a judge with the Second Circuit Court of Appeals granted a temporary injunction to stop the measure, after a group of teachers requested a review of the case.

Education Department spokeswoman Danielle Filson stated that officials were seeking a quick resolution in court.

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In this Sept. 13, 2021, file photo, a girl walks past a ‘Welcome back to school’ sign in Brooklyn, New York.Mark Lennihan / AP

“We are confident that our vaccine requirement will continue to be upheld when all the facts have been presented, because that is the level of protection our students and staff deserve,” Filson said in an email.

The newspaper New York Post reported that the Department sent an email to directors on Saturday morning saying that “they should continue to prepare for the possibility of the vaccine mandate going into effect later this week.”

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio announced in August that some 148,000 school employees would need to receive at least a first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine before September 27. The policy includes teachers and other staff members, such as custodians and cafeteria workers.

This is the first vaccination mandate in the country without the option of testing in a large group of public workers. And it resembles the statewide immunization requirement for hospital and nursing home employees.

Until Friday, 82% of Department of Education employees had already been vaccinated, including 88% of teachers.

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Although most school workers have been inoculated, unions representing New York City principals and teachers warned that due to the measures up to 10,000 teachers may be missing in a school system of one million students.

De Blasio has refused to delay implementation of the requirement, insisting the city is ready.

“We have been planning it for a long time. We have a lot [maestros] ready substitutes, ”the Democrat said in a radio interview Friday. “A lot will happen between now and Monday, but beyond that, we are ready, even if we need thousands, we have thousands,” he added.