New York Teachers Petition Supreme Court to Block Covid-19 Vaccine Mandate

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Four teachers demanded a weekly test option for other city employees; So far 92% teachers have done vaccination

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“When they go on leave without pay, they cannot work anywhere else,” said Vinoo P Varghese, the teachers’ lawyer. “We are asking that they be given the same option that the police and firefighters are given.”

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A federal appeals court late Monday overturned an action that blocked a vaccine mandate for New York City public-school workers, allowing the vaccine mandate to go ahead. The case represents the largest legal trial ever to see how similar requirements could play out across the country.

Education Department spokeswoman Katie O’Hanlon said the city plans to move forward with the mandate. By Friday evening, all school workers must show proof that they have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, or they will be placed on unpaid leave on Monday. City officials said there are 11,000 substitute teachers in the city, which is enough to continue classes.

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“The Department of Health has the authority to enforce a mandate that is based on the science and expertise of public health officials across the country,” said Ms O’Hanlon.

Earlier this week, city officials said 89% of the city’s education department staff had been vaccinated, including 92% of teachers and 97% of headmasters.

But in other important roles vaccination rates are low in some cases. For example, school safety agents have a vaccination rate of 72%. The Zilla Parishad 37 municipal union, which represents employees such as paraprofessionals, school lunch aides and crossing guards, estimates its rate to be around 78%.

Mayor Bill de Blasio was optimistic this week, saying he expects 100% of DOE employees to have at least one dose of the vaccine by Monday morning.

write to Lee Hawkins at [email protected]

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