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Justice Sotomayor declines NYC teachers' request to block COVID-19 vaccine mandate

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Justice Sotomayor declines NYC teachers' request to block COVID-19 vaccine mandate
A woman helps a child with adjusting a face mask in New York City on September 21, 2020. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

Oct. 1 (UPI) -- Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor on Friday denied a request by New York City teachers challenging a mandate that all public school staff must vaccinated against COVID-19.

She declined to refer the case to the full U.S. Supreme Court hours before a deadline set by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. The mandate, announced Aug. 23, required all teachers and staff to receive their first shot by 5 p.m. Friday or be suspended without pay Monday.

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A group of teachers sued the city, arguing the mandate violated their right to due process and put them at risk of losing their livelihoods. The lawsuit argued that unlike the federal mandate, which gives workers the option to undergo regular tests instead of the vaccine, the city offers no similar opt-out.

An appellate judge blocked the mandate earlier this week, but a three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the mandate. The teachers asked the Supreme Court to issue an injunction while further appeals play out.

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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 principals.

Some 10,000 teachers remain unvaccinated, prompting concern the mandate could lead to a teacher shortage if not enough substitutes can be found.

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