NYC Schools Proceed With COVID Vaccine Mandate as SCOTUS Justice Sotomayor Blocks Teachers' Appeal

© REUTERS / David 'Dee' DelgadoPeople gather during a protest against mandated coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccines and vaccine passports, in New York City, U.S., September 27, 2021
People gather during a protest against mandated coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccines and vaccine passports, in New York City, U.S., September 27, 2021 - Sputnik International, 1920, 03.10.2021
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On Monday, a US appeals panel issued an order that allowed the New York City Department of Education to impose a vaccine mandate on its teachers and adult personnel. The decision was promptly met with a legal challenge filed in the US Supreme Court by a group of educators who have panned the mandate as an "unconstitutional burden".
Beginning Monday, virtually all active teachers and personnel in New York City schools must have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, as required by the district-wide vaccine mandate announced by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio in August.
Teachers who did not secure an exemption, or simply failed to meet the October 1st, 5:00 p.m. local time deadline, risk being sidelined, with unpaid leave extending until September 2022.
Despite legal opposition, the contentious mandate's first-dose deadline remained in place on Friday, with US Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor rejecting an emergency appeal.
© Steve Petteway/Collection of the Supreme Court of the United StatesOfficial Portrait of SCOTUS Justice Sonia Sotomayor
Official Portrait of SCOTUS Justice Sonia Sotomayor - Sputnik International, 1920, 03.10.2021
Official Portrait of SCOTUS Justice Sonia Sotomayor
"Put bluntly, plaintiffs do not have a substantive due process right to teach children without being vaccinated against a dangerous infectious disease", said a lawyer representing the city, as reported by Reuters.

The educators' legal team stated that the mandate "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".

The appeal suggested that unvaccinated teachers and public school personnel were not given alternatives, such as weekly COVID-19 testing - an option available for select municipality employees.
Additionally, the mandate forces public schools to potentially sideline "thousands" of educators at a time when teacher availability is already low.
Vinoo Varghese, an attorney for teachers, slammed both the NYC mayor and Dr Dave Chokshi, the city's health commissioner, claiming that they "don't care about" schoolchildren and those "fantastic public employees" who may lose their jobs.
De Blasio welcomed Sotomayor's move.

"Nothing is more important than the safety of our [NYC school] staff, faculty, and students", the NYC mayor tweeted in response to the decision. "Thank you to the Supreme Court for standing with us".

Earlier in the week, de Blasio warned NYC school teachers and personnel to get their first dose by the October 1st deadline, "or don't return to work on Monday", October 4th.
The NYC mayor told reporters on Friday that around 90% of NYC school teachers and personnel have received at least their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
© REUTERS / Jeenah MoonBill de Blasio, mayor of New York, speaks during a news conference at New Bridges Elementary School, ahead of schools reopening, in the Brooklyn borough of New York City, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in New York, U.S., August 19, 2020.
Bill de Blasio, mayor of New York, speaks during a news conference at New Bridges Elementary School, ahead of schools reopening, in the Brooklyn borough of New York City, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in New York, U.S., August 19, 2020. - Sputnik International, 1920, 03.10.2021
Bill de Blasio, mayor of New York, speaks during a news conference at New Bridges Elementary School, ahead of schools reopening, in the Brooklyn borough of New York City, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in New York, U.S., August 19, 2020.
"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.
Sotomayor's swift decision came on her own, without a referral to the full court. Her Friday denial mirrors that of fellow US Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who, in August, denied an appeal by students who opposed a COVID-19 vaccine mandate at Indiana University.
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