NEW YORK — New York City can go forward with implementing its COVID-19 vaccine mandate for Department of Education workers, a federal appeals panel ruled Monday afternoon, although the city will not enforce it until the end of the week.
The mandate, which was originally supposed to go into effect Monday, requires all teachers and staff to get at least one dose of the vaccine.
Speaking to NY1 in his weekly “Mondays with the Mayor” interview on “Inside City Hall” in the evening, Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city is "realigning the timeline" with the ruling, and will give employees until 5 p.m. on Friday to get their first dose.
BREAKING NEWS: @NYCMayor on @InsideCityHall says Department of Education staff have until 5 p.m. on Friday to get their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, after a federal appeals panel ruled the vaccine mandate can go forward. #NY1Politics pic.twitter.com/Qab6VD2D6h— Spectrum News NY1 (@NY1) September 27, 2021
"If no dose by Friday evening, we are going to fill your role on Monday,” the mayor in his interview on NY1 said about DOE staff who are unvaccinated.
In a statement after the ruling, an attorney for the plaintiffs said they were “dismayed and disappointed” by the ruling.
“With thousands of teachers unvaccinated, the City may regret what it wished for,” Mark Fonte said in the statement. “Our teachers will be left with no teachers and no security in the school.”
The plaintiffs are petitioning to appeal to the United States Supreme Court.
The mandate has gone back and forth in courts in recent weeks, including on Friday, when a federal appeals court granted a temporary injunction.
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.
In statement Monday night, United Federation of Teachers (UFT) President Michael Mulgrew said the union will work to ensure schools can open safely with enough vaccinated staff, but again expressed fears over potential staffing shortages when the mandate goes into effect.
"The city's estimate is that 97 percent 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 statement reads. "The city has a lot of work before it to ensure that enough vaccinated staff will be available by the new deadline."
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