News & Politics

Federal Judge Grants Restraining Order Blocking Vaccine Mandate in NYC Schools

Federal Judge Grants Restraining Order Blocking Vaccine Mandate in NYC Schools
AP Photo/Mark Lennihan

A federal appeals court in New York City granted a temporary delay in implementing the Department of Education’s vaccine mandate that was scheduled to go into effect by the end of the day on Monday, September 27.

A hearing was scheduled before the entire three-judge appeals panel on Wednesday, but the restraining order only added to the massive confusion among teachers, administrators, politicians, and other DOE employees over the mandate.

The city begged the court to resolve the situation. “By casting a cloud over the Commissioner of Health’s order regarding vaccination of DOE workers, and the outcome of a labor arbitration conducted by plaintiffs’ labor representatives, the administrative injunction threatens the DOE’s safe resumption of full school operations for the city’s nearly one million students – hundreds of thousands of whom are not yet eligible to be vaccinated,” the city said in a letter to the court.

For the DOE, it’s full speed ahead, regardless of the chaos.


“We’re confident our vaccine mandate will continue to be upheld once all the facts have been presented, because that is the level of protection our students and staff deserve. Our current vax-or-test mandate remains in effect and we’re seeking speedy resolution by the Circuit Court next week. Over 82% of DOE employees have been vaccinated and we continue to urge all employees to get their shot by September 27.”

On Monday, the city is expecting thousands of vacancies. Not just thousands of teachers, 85 percent of whom are fully vaccinated, but maintenance staff, cafeteria workers, and teachers’ aides. If they refuse to get jabbed, they risk being suspended without pay until they do.

Under the mandate, workers at New York City schools would have until Monday to get their COVID vaccinations before it goes into effect, prompting fears and warnings of a teacher shortage if not enough substitutes can be found.

In a memo to school officials Saturday morning, Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter says unvaccinated school staff can continue to work next week under the existing testing requirements, “with the possibility that the vaccine mandate will go into effect later in the week.”

Right now, about 10,000 teachers remain unvaccinated, and schools are scrambling to replace them before the deadline.

President of the teachers’ union Michael Mulgrew observed, “This is the nightmare scenario.”

So far, it’s estimated that about 100,000 students have yet to return to the classroom. That number will probably be even larger on Monday as the confusion and chaos engulf the city’s schools. Parents have been demanding a remote learning option for their children but aren’t likely to get it.

The question still to be answered: What happens when a vaccine is approved for children under 12? Will parents be forced to vaccinate their children before they can come to school? The question is relevant because the FDA is on the cusp of approving a Pfizer vaccine that the company says is “safe and effective” in children 5-12 years of age.

It’s more than likely that the Biden administration will encourage a vaccine mandate for children to be adopted by local school districts. This is a nightmare with no end in sight — for children or adults.