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25 Sep, 2021 19:42

NYC judge blocks school vaccine mandate as deadline looms, but city confident it ‘will be upheld’

NYC judge blocks school vaccine mandate as deadline looms, but city confident it ‘will be upheld’

A federal appeals court judge has blocked a Covid-19 vaccine mandate in place for New York City school employees just days before the deadline, though officials say they expect it to continue to be enforced.

The more than 150,000 people working in the nation’s largest school system were required to have had at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine by September 27. However, the mandate was blocked by a judge in the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, who granted a temporary injunction on Friday evening, referring the case to a three-judge panel that will make a determination on its legality in the coming days. 

The injunction was celebrated on social media by critics of mask and vaccine mandates, but city officials have made it clear that they believe the vaccination requirement will be retained, and “urged” those unvaccinated to get inoculated. 

“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,” NYC Department of Education spokesperson Danielle Filson said, adding that she expected a resolution by next week. 

According to Filson, approximately 82% of department employees are currently vaccinated. 

NYC Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter also expects the mandate to be upheld, and reminded unvaccinated employees that they were still required to submit weekly negative Covid-19 tests to be eligible for work. 

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The vaccine mandate has faced opposition from workers’ unions, many of which have filed suits challenging its legality. 

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has received pushback for imposing the requirement, and, conversely, for remaining committed to all schools being open for in-person learning despite concerns about coronavirus. He has resisted calls for remote learning, as well as requests to delay the mandate in the light of concerns about the potential of staff shortages, which may run into the thousands. 

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