Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration has been temporarily barred from vaccinating nearly all adults in New York’s public school buildings after a federal appeals court issued an order Friday.
The mandate, which affects more than 150,000 people in the country’s largest school system, will take effect at midnight Monday. Teachers, parents and union workers face potential understaffing and disruption in at least some schools where many teachers and staff have not been vaccinated.
A US appeals court judge issued the order on a second vote and referred the matter to a three-judge review panel. City officials said they expect a review and decision in the next few days, possibly even the weekend, and hope the mandate will be fulfilled. However, it is not clear whether the issue will be resolved before Monday’s deadline.
Last week, a state Supreme Court judge ruled the city could continue its mandate after hearing a separate but similar case filed by a coalition of unions representing state school officials. Judge Lawrence Love said state and federal courts consistently upheld mandatory vaccination.
And on Thursday, a Brooklyn federal judge Brian M. Cogan refused to issue the order requested by a group of teachers, calling the mandate a “rational political solution to protect children during a global pandemic.”
At least 90 percent of teachers and 95 percent of principals have been vaccinated. The proportion of employees in school buildings is low – about 82 percent.
Union leaders, who represent the city’s teachers and principals, urged de Blasio to postpone his term, saying the school did not want to deal with staff shortages.
The mandate announced last month requires all teachers, as well as staff such as supervisors, school lunchtime assistants and security personnel, to receive at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine by Monday evening. This is the first vaccination period without a trial option for a group of urban workers.
“We are confident that our vaccination mandate will be confirmed once all the facts are in, as well as the level of protection for our students and staff,” said Daniel Filson, a spokesman for the Ministry of Education.