NEW YORK (AP) — A federal appeals court judge on Friday temporarily blocked New York City’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for Department of Education staff, just days before the requirement was set to go into effect.
The case, a lawsuit filed by a group of teachers, was referred to a three-judge appeals court panel for further review. The review could take place as early as this weekend, before the city’s vaccination deadline was expected to take place on Monday, the New York Times reported.
Department of Education spokesperson Danielle Filson said that officials are seeking a speedy resolution and that the circuit court has the motion on its calendar for Wednesday.
“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,” Filson said in an email to the Associated Press.
The New York Post reported that the department sent an email to principals Saturday morning saying they “should continue to prepare for the possibility that the vaccine mandate will go into effect later in the week.”
As of Friday, 82% of department employees have been vaccinated, including 88% of teachers.
The temporary injunction is separate from a state Supreme Court judge’s ruling on Wednesday that allowed the city to move forward with the mandate. The state Supreme Court’s decision was related to a similar lawsuit filed by a coalition of unions representing public school workers.
While most school workers have been vaccinated, unions representing New York City principals and teachers warned that could still leave the 1 million-student school system short of as many as 10,000 teachers, along with other staffers, such as cafeteria workers and school police officers.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has resisted calls to delay the mandate.