NEW YORK — U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor has denied a request for an injunction against the Department of Education's COVID-19 vaccine mandate, the mayor's press secretary and the attorney who filed the petition confirmed Friday afternoon.
The city education department has said teachers who did not receive the first dose of the vaccine by 5 p.m. Friday would not be allowed to enter school buildings Monday.
In a statement, Mark Fonte, the attorney who filed the petition, expressed disappointment.
"Vaccine mandates for adults has not been argued before the Court in over a century," Fonte's statement reads in part. "These unconstitutional edicts will continue throughout the nation until our Courts decide to hear our argument that the Government has gone too far."
A group of New York City teachers had filed the petition Thursday in an effort to get the Supreme Court to intervene.
Unlike other municipal workers, DOE employees cannot test out. Opponents sued over the mandate, saying it’s unconstitutional.
The petitioners also argued the mandate puts students’ education at risk, and would result in thousands of unvaccinated public school employees losing their jobs.
Mayor Bill de Blasio has said firings would not be immediate, but urged DOE staff to get vaccinated if they want to to keep their jobs.
An independent arbitrator ruled last month that unvaccinated teachers with specific documented medical or religious exemptions must be offered alternative work assignments. The arbitration also calls for unpaid leave with health coverage, or a severance arrangement, for those who refuse to get the shot and do not qualify for an exemption. That unpaid leave would last through September of next year.
As of Friday morning, 90% of all school staff citywide had uploaded proof of vaccination, including 93% of teachers and 98% of principals. If that number holds, it will mean thousands of teachers won’t be able to work — and won’t get paid — next week.
But city officials say they have a reserve pool of 11,000 substitute teachers, as well as former teachers working in other areas in the department, that could be tapped if there are any staffing shortages related to the mandate going into effect. Right now, about 10,000 teachers remain unvaccinated.
The mandate has gone back and forth in courts in recent weeks, including earlier this week, when a federal appeals panel ruled Monday that the city could move forward with the requirement.
This story includes reporting from Jillian Jorgensen.
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