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Judges Rule New York City Vaccine Mandate for School Workers Can Proceed

New York City’s vaccine mandate for nearly all adults working in its public schools can proceed as scheduled, a federal appeals panel ruled on Monday, reversing a decision made over the weekend that paused enforcement of the mandate until later this week at the earliest.

Mayor Bill de Blasio had originally ordered well over 150,000 educators and staff in the nation’s largest school system to receive at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine by tonight at midnight. That deadline was put on hold late Friday by a judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. The three-judge panel was scheduled to take up the issue on Wednesday, but it appears to have ruled early.

It’s not yet clear if the city will decide to implement the mandate tonight at midnight as originally scheduled or wait until later in the week.

The vaccine mandate for city educators and school staff has been upheld twice in state and federal courts in recent weeks. The Department of Education mandate is the first strict vaccine requirement for any group of city workers, and it could clear the path for a much broader mandate for all city employees in the coming weeks.

Mr. de Blasio said Monday that roughly 97 percent of principals and about 95 percent of teachers had been vaccinated, according to estimates from the city and unions representing teachers and principals, and that 87 percent of non-teaching school staff had received at least one shot. Roughly 8,000 Department of Education employees received a vaccination dose over the weekend in anticipation of the deadline.

The leaders of the unions representing the city’s teachers and principals have called on Mr. de Blasio to delay the implementation of the mandate, arguing that schools were not prepared to deal with staffing crunches.