In court papers, lawyers for the teachers claimed that New York City, as well as the Department of Education and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, have placed an “unconstitutional burden” on elementary school teachers. They wanted the high court to block the mandate while the appeal process unfolded.
In August, New York officials issued an order requiring Department of Education staff who “work personally” in a school or building to provide evidence of at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccination.
Lawyers argued that instead of allowing teachers to opt out of the vaccination mandate through weekly testing, the city’s mandate forces “unvaccinated elementary school staff to go on unpaid leave for nearly a year.”
The challengers in the case gave various reasons for not wanting to get the vaccine, including a concern about the long-term effects of the vaccine. They say the mandate “threatens the education of thousands of children in the country’s largest public school system and violates the material due process and equal protection rights offered to all primary school staff.”
A federal district court had refused to block the mandate, stating that it “represents a rational political decision on how best to protect children during a global pandemic.”
The court said that while there are other means to prevent the spread of Covid 19, “it is not shocking for the city to conclude that vaccination is the best way to do it, especially at a time when viral transmission rates are high.”
This story has been updated with further details.