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Federal court temporarily blocks Covid-19 vaccine mandate for New York City teachers

The US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has issued a notice putting the motion on the calendar for Wednesday, according to a spokesperson for the New York City Law Department.

New York City Department of Education officials do not expect a ruling before Wednesday, press secretary Danielle Filson said. But the department remains confident the mandate will be upheld “once all the facts have been presented, because that is the level of protection our students and staff deserve.”

CNN had reported that thousands of teachers might not be in their classrooms next Tuesday, the morning the mandate goes into effect. Unions representing teachers, principals and supervisors had said the mandate’s introduction has been so poorly handled that many school employees would be suspended.

Currently, more than 82% of Department of Education employees are vaccinated, Filson said, “and we continue to urge all employees to get their shot by September 27.”

The request for an injunction by the plaintiffs in the case was denied Thursday by US District Court Judge Brian Cogan. According to his order, the plaintiffs had, in part, argued the mandate was a violation of their constitutional rights. But Cogan wrote the mandate was a “rational policy decision” that would help protect children during the pandemic.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs appealed to the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. On Friday, the temporary injunction was granted pending review of the motion by the three-judge panel “on an expedited basis.”

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the mandate in August, after the US Food and Drug Administration granted full approval to the Covid-19 vaccine by Pfizer/BioNTech, making educator vaccination a key pillar of the Covid-19 mitigation strategy by the nation’s largest school district. The mandate did not provide an option for employees to be regularly tested in lieu of inoculation.

CNN has reached out to de Blasio’s office for comment.

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