New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Friday morning the vaccination rate among the city’s public school employees had reached 90% ahead of one of the nation’s strictest vaccine mandates for public workers taking effect, which could knock teachers off payroll if they can’t show proof of at least one Covid vaccine shot by Monday.
Appearing on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, de Blasio said 90% of all school employees, including 93% of teachers and 98% of principals, have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.
That number has steadily ticked up from about 80% last week ahead of the new mandate, which eliminates the existing option for unvaccinated employees to show negative Covid test results weekly.
If numbers stay where they are, that would still mean nearly 15,000 school employees in the nation’s largest city would be barred from work starting Monday.
Those who refuse to get vaccinated will have the option of taking a year of unpaid leave with health benefits or quitting their jobs with severance pay.
The mandate was initially set to take effect this past Monday, but has been delayed by court action in response to a lawsuit from a group of teachers who claim the mandate puts an “unconstitutional burden” on educators. Their lawsuit to stop the mandate was tossed by a federal District Court, but—in a surprise move—the Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals granted a temporary injunction late last Friday blocking the mandate from taking effect until a three-judge panel could review the case. Within days, the panel had finished its review, and rejected the teachers’ claims. On Thursday, unvaccinated educators launched a last-ditch effort to block the mandate, filing an emergency appeal to the Supreme Court. The court has not yet issued a ruling on the case.
A similar mandate, granting no option for the unvaccinated to keep working by showing negative test results, will take effect for all executive office employees of Massachusetts state government on October 17. The state police force is included in that mandate, leading to the state police union filing a lawsuit to block it from taking effect. After a state judge blocked that effort last month, the union responded by saying “dozens” of officers are planning to quit over the vaccine requirement.