Federal Judges: NYC May Impose Vaccination Warrant on Teachers | News from USA®



By LARRY NEUMEISTER, Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) – The nation’s largest school district can immediately impose a vaccination warrant on its teachers and other workers, after all, a federal appeal board ruled on Monday, leading teachers’ lawyers to say they would ask the United States Supreme Court to intervene.

The city’s education ministry said the mandate would now go into effect late Friday, so all teachers and staff would be vaccinated by October 4, the following Monday.

The three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Court of Appeals in Manhattan issued a brief order late in the day that lifted a block of the warrant that a single appellate judge put in place on Friday.

After a negative ruling from a Brooklyn judge, a group of teachers took the case to the appeals court, which tasked a three-judge panel to hear oral arguments on Wednesday. But the appeal board issued its order on Monday after written arguments were submitted by both parties.

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Lawyer Mark Fonte, who has filed a lawsuit on behalf of the teachers and others, said in a statement that he and lawyer Louis Gelormino are immediately asking the Supreme Court to intervene.

“From that moment on, the mandate is in place,” he said, adding that he and Gelormino were “appalled and disappointed by this turn of events”.

Fonte added, “With thousands of unvaccinated teachers, the City may regret what it wanted. Our children will find themselves without teachers and without safety in schools. “

The city’s education ministry said in its statement, “Vaccinations are our most powerful tool in the fight against COVID-19 – this decision is on the right side of the law and will protect our students and staff. “

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced in August that approximately 148,000 school employees are expected to receive at least a first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by September 27. The policy covers teachers, as well as other staff, such as guards and cafeteria workers.

The practical effect of the warrant was that teachers and other staff would have been unable to work, as of Tuesday, had they not been vaccinated.

As of Monday, 87 percent of all education ministry employees were vaccinated, including 90 percent of teachers, de Blasio said.

But the president of the United Teachers’ Federation, Michael Mulgrew, said a survey of some of its members found only a third believed their schools could open without interruption.

“The city has a lot of work ahead of it to ensure that enough vaccinated staff will be available by the new deadline,” he said in a statement.

Teachers’ lawyers argued in documents submitted to Circuit 2 on Monday that teachers who are put on unpaid leave because they did not comply with the order will suffer irreparable harm if the appeals court does not block not the warrant.

Lawyers wrote that the city’s ordinance “will leave teachers and paraprofessionals without the resources to pay rent, utilities and other essentials.” Evil is imminent.

They said the warrant would leave thousands of New York City children in the nation’s largest school district without their teachers and other school workers.

“There is imminent and irreparable harm,” the lawyers insisted.

The city submitted written arguments to the appeals court on Sunday, saying some teachers’ preference “to remain unvaccinated while teaching vulnerable schoolchildren is overshadowed by the public interest in safely resuming school operations for one million public school students and to ensure that caregivers across the city can send their children to school knowing that strong safety protocols are in place.

Lawyers for the city said courts have long recognized that vaccination warrants do not infringe on constitutional due process rights workers enjoy and have dismissed similar challenges for more than a century.

“Frankly speaking, the plaintiffs do not have the right to teach children without being vaccinated against a dangerous infectious disease,” they wrote. “The vaccination mandate is not only a rational public health measure, but a crucial one.”

Associated Press writer Deepti Hajela contributed to this report.

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