Sept. 27 (UPI) -- A panel of judges on Monday allowed New York City's vaccine mandate for public school employees to take effect.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said public school staff must be vaccinated by 5 p.m. on Friday as a three-judge panel from the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals dissolved a temporary injunction placed on the requirement.
"Vaccinations are our strongest tool in the fight against COVID-19 -- this ruling is on the right side of the law and will protect our students and staff," a Department of Education representative said. "The mandate will go into effect on Friday end of day so that by Monday, Oct. 4, 100% of educators and staff in our buildings will be vaccinated."
"With thousands of teachers not vaccinated the City may regret what it wished for," Fonte said. "Our children will be left with no teaches and no security in schools."
As of Monday, 87% of all employees in the New York City Department of Education had received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, including 90% of teachers and 97% of principles.
However, 10,000 teachers remain unvaccinated prompting concern that the mandate could lead to a teacher shortage if not enough substitutes can be found.
Unions have urged the state to push the deadline back as Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers, said only about one-third of teachers believe their schools can open without interruption.
"The city has a lot of work before it to ensure that enough vaccinated staff will be available by the deadline," said Mulgrew. "We will be working with our members to ensure, as far as possible, that our schools can open safely as the vaccine mandate is enforced."