Louis Gelormino, who represents lead plaintiff Rachel Maniscalco and others, told the court, “I’m not anti-vax, most of the teachers are not anti-vax, they are anti-mandate.”
He added, “All we are asking for is a choice, a very simple choice.”
Gelormino noted teachers outside of the city public school system are not subject to the same restrictions.
“Judge, all we are asking is to be put in the same position as other teachers in New York State,” he said.
One judge said parents don’t have a choice to send their children to public school, and must be ensured a safe environment.
Another said the city is merely attempting to respond to the pandemic. “We are kind of limited on facts. It is pre-facts.”
“Let’s give it a couple years before we mandate it,” Gelormino said. “All we are asking for is a reasonable choice, with the same goal as the city, to protect the children. Testing options are a reasonable choice, it’s considered reasonable almost everywhere else in the country. It’s considered reasonable for the rest of the teachers in New York state. It’s considered reasonable for the rest of our municipal workers, who deal in a much riskier area because they are not dealing with children, they are dealing with the people more inclined to get the diseases.”
But, city lawyers said teachers do not have a “right to work.”
“There simply is no fundamental right to work for the city unvaccinated,” said Susan Paulson, attorney.
The judges said they will reserve their decision.
Meantime, another major court case was set to be heard Thursday in Lower Manhattan. A panel of judges were to debate whether health care workers can skip the vaccine if they claim a religious exemption. But, for unknown reasons, the case was adjourned for 13 days.
New York State’s vaccine mandate does not allow for religious exemptions, but three nurses, one from Syracuse and two from Syosset, sued claiming they didn’t want to take the vaccine because of their Catholic faith.
They object to the use of embryonic stem cells in the vaccine’s development.
A federal appeals court panel put the mandate on hold until the next hearing which is now delayed by 13 days.
Also Thursday, an FDA advisory committee will consider authorizing booster shots for the Johnson & Johnson and Moderna vaccines.
That’s after the CDC authorized boosters for some high-risk groups who got the Pfizer vaccine at least six months ago.
At least for now, the FDA is not planning to authorize people to mix vaccines, even though a new study said it’s safe to do so.
There could be a decision Friday.
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