In a last-ditch effort to delay the Friday deadline for unvaccinated New York City teachers to receive the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, some teachers filed a petition for an emergency injunction, the New York Post reported.
Four plaintiffs appealed to Justice Sonia Sotomayor to stop the city from removing unvaccinated teachers from their posts by the deadline, according to the New York Post.
“This Court should grant the injunction after nearly two years of lockdowns, to prevent the largest public-school system in the country from further disrupting the education of hundreds of thousands of students who desperately need in-person teachers,” the petition said, the NYP reported.
Educators who refuse the COVID-19 vaccine and have no religious or medical exemptions will either be placed on unpaid leave with healthcare or take a severance package from the New York City Department of Education and leave their jobs.
Lawsuits challenging the order have been unsuccessful, including a Monday ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit that upheld the vaccine requirement for NYC educators.
NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio said the mandate will protect schools, students and teachers against COVID-19 outbreaks, and those opposed to the mandate argue it is a violation of their rights.
The mayor has warned of “very tough” consequences for those who don’t comply with the mandate, but concerned teacher’s unions have responded by raising problems with staff shortages. According to estimates from the city and teachers unions, 97% of school principals and 90% of teachers in the city’s school district have received the vaccine.
“The city’s estimate is that 97% of the teachers have been vaccinated, but according to our recent survey of UFT chapter leaders, only about one-third believe that as of now their schools can open without disruption, given the potential shortage of unvaccinated personnel, including school aides and security personnel,” the United Federation of Teachers said in a statement. “The city has a lot of work before it to ensure that enough vaccinated staff will be available by the new deadline.”
De Blasio and schools Chancellor Meisha Ross-Porter said they have vaccinated substitutes in place to fill the spots of unvaccinated teachers.
“Plaintiffs have no valid claims and have stated no basis for the Court’s intervention,” said Department of Education spokesperson Katie O’Hanlon, the New York Post reported. “Courts have spoken. The Health Department has the authority to implement a mandate that is firmly grounded in science and the expertise of public health officials from across the nation.”