DailyMail.com | by Rachel Sharp | October 1, 2021
- SC Justice Sonia Sotomayor rejected the teachers’ bid to block the mandate
- A group of teachers sent an emergency petition Thursday claiming their rights are violated as they don’t have the option to undergo testing instead of the shot
- Teachers across all NYC public schools were given a deadline of 5pm Friday to get vaccinated against COVID-19 or be placed on unpaid leave
- Mayor de Blasio said Friday that 90% of all Department of Education employees were at least partially vaccinated, including 93% of teachers
- This means, up to 14,800 unvaccinated school employees could be out of work
US Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor ruled in favor of the city Friday – allowing the mandate to go ahead and paving the way for up to 14,800 unvaccinated school employees to be out of work come Monday.
A group of four teachers had sent an emergency petition to Sotomayor Thursday asking her to halt the mandate.
They argued the mandate not only places an ‘unconstitutional burden’ on the city’s 148,000 school workers, but also ‘threatens the education of thousands of children.’
The petition claimed teachers’ rights are being violated because they do not have the option to undergo regular COVID-19 testing instead of getting the shot.
Teachers across all public schools in the Big Apple were given up until 5pm Friday to get vaccinated against COVID-19 or risk losing their jobs.
Unlike most vaccine mandates put in place such as by the federal government and private businesses across the country, the rule does not allow unvaccinated employees to undergo weekly COVID-19 testing instead of getting the shot.
Yet, other New York municipal workers – including NYPD cops – have been given that testing option.
When the school day starts the following Monday – October 4 – all teachers and staff arriving for work across the city’s public schools must have received at least their first dose of the vaccine.
Anyone still unvaccinated by the deadline, will be placed on unpaid leave until September 2022.
The New York Department of Education employs 148,000 school workers, including 75,000 teachers.
De Blasio said on MSNBC Friday that 90 percent of all Department of Education employees in the city were already at least partially vaccinated, including 93 percent of teachers and 98 percent of principals.
This shows a significant proportion of educators have rushed to get the shot this week ahead of the deadline, up from 87 percent of all employees Monday, including 90 percent of teachers and 97 percent of principals.
However, this means around 14,800 school employees including 5,250 teachers in the city’s public schools could be out of work by Monday, plunging hundreds of schools into potential staffing crises.
Sotomayor, who is the justice for the second circuit including New York, Connecticut and Vermont and so rules on emergency matters in the Big Apple, rejected the teachers’ last-ditch effort to block the mandate without giving any explanation.
She also did not refer the emergency request to the full Supreme Court to review.
The liberal justice’s decision followed a similar ruling from conservative Justice Amy Coney Barrett back in August.
Coney Barrett denied a bid from a group of students at Indiana University to block the school’s vaccine mandate – also providing no comment and no referral.
In the 12-page petition, filed Thursday, the group of teachers argued the City of New York, the Department of Education, and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene ‘created an Executive Order that places an unconstitutional burden on public-school teachers’ – something they describe as the ‘epitome of government overreach.’
The mandate ‘forces unvaccinated public-school employees to go on unpaid leave for nearly a year’, the petition said.
The group said the mandate unfairly forces teachers out of work when other city employees including those who are also in contact with children can instead opt for weekly testing.
They argued that teachers should also have the option to undergo COVID-19 testing rather than being forced to take the shot.
‘As the number of unvaccinated is small compared to that of the vaccinated, there is no basis to mandate vaccines in lieu of weekly testing,’ the petition said.
As well as the impact on school staff, the petition argued the mandate also ‘threatens the education of thousands of children in the largest public-school system in the country and violates the substantive due process and equal protection rights afforded to all public-school employees.’
One of the teachers Rachel Maniscalo told CBS Local they feel ‘betrayed’ by de Blasio and were fighting for ‘medical freedom.’
‘I think the mayor needs to understand that we all feel very much betrayed,’ she said.
De Blasio continued to defend the mandate earlier Friday arguing it is the best way to protect unvaccinated younger children from the virus.
‘The bottom line is this mandate has worked and the goal was to protect kids, including our youngest kids who can’t be vaccinated yet, and to ensure that families knew schools would be safe,’ he said.
‘So, this is – look, our schools are precious, our kids are precious. There’s nothing else in our society that is as central to everything we hope for as our schools, and parents, when they send that child to school, that is entrusting our schools, the safety of their child.’
He also added that ‘mandates work’ pointing to other similar rules across the city.
‘We put in mandates for public employees. We put in our indoor dining mandate over the last two months, vaccinations in New York City have gone up 45 percent,’ he said.
‘And in New York City today, about 83 percent of all adults have had at least one dose. So mandates work, they make us safer.’
The last-ditch effort from the group comes after weeks of toing and froing over the mandate which saw a temporary block lifted Monday.
The teachers filed a proposed class action lawsuit in Brooklyn federal court last month, claiming the mandate violates their rights to due process and equal protection under the law under the US Constitution’s 14th Amendment.
The mandate interferes with their freedom to pursue their chosen profession and discriminates against them because other municipal workers can opt out by taking weekly COVID-19 tests, the teachers said.
Maniscalco, who teaches in the city’s borough of Staten Island, expressed concern about the safety of COVID-19 vaccines, while others said they should be exempt because they have antibodies from a prior COVID-19 infection.
A Brooklyn judge ruled in favor of the city, which led to the teachers filing an appeal.
The, last Friday, an appeals judge sided with the teachers, putting a block on the mandate going into effect.
This meant the city couldn’t enforce the rule until a three-judge panel decided whether it was constitutional, forcing de Blasio to amend his rules and allow for weekly testing of staff.
But a panel of federal judges reversed this decision Monday evening, lifting the block and giving de Blasio’s administration the green light to enforce the mandate.
The 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan dissolved the temporary injunction Monday evening and denied the original motion.
De Blasio announced back in August that all school employees – including teachers, custodians and cafeteria workers – were required to get at least their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccination by September 27.
The mayor pushed the deadline back to 5pm Friday on Monday after a lower court temporarily blocked the mandate.
‘If you have not have gotten that first dose Friday, 5 p.m., we will assume you are not coming to work on Monday and you will not be paid starting Monday and we will fill your role with a substitute or an alternative employee,’ he said.