New York City teachers and Department of Education staff are pushing the vaccine mandate to a hearing. On Wednesday, a New York court will hear a challenge to Mayor Bill de Blasio's vaccine mandate, a requirement which was temporarily blocked by the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
Monday is the deadline for education staff to have received at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccine. This order was implemented by the mayor for all 148,000 staff members of the largest school system in the country, which stood at 1.1 million school children prior to enrollment drops during the pandemic.
The deadline was blocked on Friday and a temporary injunction was issued on behalf of four plaintiffs according to Reuters, that gives teachers and other staff an opportunity to state their challenge to the mandate in court. Vaccination is mandatory, under de Blasio's executive order, and weekly testing is not an allowable alternative.
The challenge to the mandate was brought in Brooklyn's US District Court on Sept. 15. The four plaintiffs offered concerns that they would lose employment, benefits, and their seniority if they did not go along with the mayor's demand that they get vaccinated.
Part of their argument was that New York City schools, which operated on a "blended learning model" during the 2020/21 school year, complete with masks, social distancing, and other precautions, were not hubs of Covid outbreaks.
"Such an ongoing, draconian punishment shocks the conscience, violates constitutional rights, and not only should not be permitted, but must be restrained immediately to prevent irreparable harm," they said.
The city's Law Department issued their own challenge to the injunction against the mayor's order, saying that the temporary block of the order is a threat to the "safe resumption of full school operations for the city's nearly one million students." That number was under 1 million as of January, and the DOE has not released current figures.
"The order also upsets the reliance interests of parents and caregivers across the city - who need clear and sound safety protocols when they send their children to public schools in the city day after day," the letter read, signed by Corporation Counsel Georgia Pestana.
Many of America's biggest cities have followed suit with the mandates. LA, Chicago, Washington state, and other ares have stated that teachers are required to get vaccinated. Proof of natural immunity is not considered to be a allowable alternative.