by Photo courtesy of the Sweetwater Union High School District via Instagram

The Superior Court recently halted San Diego Unified School District’s vaccine mandate, prompting a local school district to review their own. 

The Sweetwater Union High School District issued a statement on social media following the Superior Court Judge John S. Meyer's rule against SDUSD mandating vaccines for students 16 years or older. Further information on student implementation timelines and exemptions are expected after Jan.3 according to the district. 

“SUHSD is aware of the ruling made by the Superior Court regarding student Covid-19 vaccine mandates. We will be reviewing the implications of the ruling during Winter break,” the district wrote in a statement. 

In a Dec.13 board meeting, the SUHSD implemented a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for all students slated to take effect by next school year. Under this mandate, all district staff and students are required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to continue employment or in-person instruction for the next school year. Proof of vaccination is required by Feb.1, 2022 for staff members and parents are asked to state whether they intened on vaccinating their children, or take part in virtual learning. 

Requests to provide medical or religious exemptions are included in the mandate. In contrast, the SDUSD’s mandate does not include such exemptions. 

According to Meyer, the district’s COVID-19 mandate did not comply with state law in a tentative ruling. State law states any decision to mandate vaccines must be made at the state level but also to include “personal belief exemptions” if the mandate is not imposed by the state Legislature. 

With the ruling, Meyer also wrote that state law requires independent study to be voluntary. The district would be in violation of state law if unvaccinated students are forced to transfer into such programs.

Since the beginning of the semester, the SUHSD reported approximately 400 cases among the district's 36,000 students and roughly 100 cases among 4,600 staff members. The district has reported 14 epidemically linked COVID-19 outbreaks since the start of the semester.

Over 20 people spoke on SUHSD’s mandate during the board meeting, many of whom expressed concern. The SUHSD received a demand letter by “Let them Choose,” urging against the mandate highlighting the district’s lack of legal authority to impose such a mandate. 

“I just want to have a choice and I want it to be a medical decision between my child’s pediatrician and family. I don’t want it to be forced to mandate by the district,” SUHSD parent Kimberly Dickson said during the board meeting. 

The district is slated for another board meeting on Jan.10, and students are scheduled to return from winter break on Jan.11. 

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