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Court blocks New York City school vaccine mandate, sets hearing next week Reuters


13 Reuters File Photo: September 13, 2021 A baby car sits at the entrance to the entrance of elementary public school in the coronavirus disease (Covid-1) epidemic, equipped with balloons, welcoming students in Queens Borough, New York City, USA. Reuters /

By Peter Szekely

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The need for New York City school teachers and staff to be vaccinated against Covid-1 for was temporarily suspended by the U.S. Court of Appeals shortly before it went into effect, but the court set Saturday’s hearing for next week.

Mayor Bill de Blasio on Monday set a deadline of Monday for the 1,000,000 staff members of the largest U.S. school system to make available at least one dose of a vaccine aimed at reducing the spread of highly contagious delta variants.

But late Friday night the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit closed the deadline with a temporary ban on a small group of public school teachers and paraprofessionals who are challenging the order, which does not allow weekly exams as an alternative.

Following a request from the city for a speedy hearing, the court set Saturday for the hearing.

The states of Los Angeles, Chicago and Washington have also made vaccination mandatory for teachers and school staff as U.S. educators and parents fight the latest coronavirus in the country over how to keep schools safe and open.

In a letter to the court, the city’s law department said there was a lack of qualifications based on the order, adding that the uncertainty it created “threatens to resume full school activities for the city’s nearly one million students.”

The letter, signed by Corporation Counsel Georgia Pestana, said, “The order also undermines the dependency interests of parents and carers across the city – who need clean and safety protocols when sending their children to city public schools day after day.”

The four plaintiffs initially challenged the vaccine order in a U.S. District Court in Brooklyn on Sept. 15, saying they would lose their jobs, benefits and seniority if they failed to comply.

“Such ongoing, harsh punishment violates conscience, violates constitutional rights, and should not only be allowed, should be restrained immediately to prevent irreparable harm,” they argued.

The plaintiffs said the experience of the school system last year showed that a safe learning environment could be achieved with masks and other precautions because vaccinations are unnecessary.

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