NEW YORK — Teachers across New York face suspensions without pay Monday after a deadline was reached for teachers to get at least their first vaccine shot.
While 90 percent of Department of Education employees have gotten vaccinated, there are still several thousand teachers and some principals who elected not to get a COVID shot, according to the latest DOE data. Many of those holding out had hoped the U.S. Supreme Court would issue an emergency injunction, but Justice Sonia Sotomayor on Friday evening denied the request from teachers.
Officials responded to Sotomayor’s decision shortly after she denied the request.
“We are gratified by Justice Sotomayor’s decision. She made the right call on the law and in the best interest of students and educators,” NYC Corporation Counsel Georgia Pestana said in a statement.
Education officials reassured parents on Friday that students would still be taught by teachers.
“There are support systems in place to ensure schools have the staff they need to take care of their students including 9,000 vaccinated substitute teachers, 5,000 vaccinated substitute paraprofessionals, qualified Central staff who can be redeployed and a new flexible funding allocation for schools to hire additional employees,” a DOE spokesperson said. “We are also offering a financial incentive to all substitute teachers and substitute paraprofessionals on top of their regular pay.”
Unvaccinated DOE workers who get a first shot over the weekend and provide proof can report to work on Monday and be moved back off the Leave Without Pay list.
“Vaccination mandates work and ours will help keep our schools safe and healthy,” a DOE spokesperson said.
Teacher Rachel Maniscalco is one of four plaintiffs in the case before the Supreme Court.
“I do not believe we need an injection we don’t want or trust in order to keep our livelihood,” she said.
Some unvaccinated DOE employees are holding out hope for an emergency restraining order to stop the vaccine mandate. A Hail-Mary was filed in the Southern District of New York in Federal Court. The filing represents 10 plaintiffs asking for a broader relief to apply to anyone seeking a religious or medical exemption.
“That the very least, any vaccine mandate to be constitutional has to have an adequate religious exemption and adequate medical exemption,” attorney Sujata Gibson said.
“We are extremely disappointed with the decision of the United States Supreme Court. The voices of our teachers deserved to be heard. Vaccine mandates for adults has not been argued before the Court in over a century. These unconstitutional edicts will continue throughout the nation until our Courts decide to hear our argument that the Government has gone too far. Our children are the ones who will suffer the most. The teachers that our kids are are so fond of will no longer be in the classroom. The safety of our children will be compromised with the absence of school safety officers. The public school system, like the rest of the city, will be tragically degraded by these mayoral mandates. May God help our teachers and children,” Attorney Louis Gelormino said in a statement.