by Photo courtesy of San Diego Unified

The U.S. Supreme Court declined to grant an emergency order that blocks San Diego Unified School District from enforcing its COVID-19 vaccine requirements. 

A one-page court order cites the district’s decision to delay the implementation of the challenged policy.

“Because they have not settled on the form any policy will now take, emergency relief is not warranted at this time,” the document reads. 

The high court said the application was denied due to changed circumstances and would seek a new injunction “if circumstances warrant”.

The school board approved vaccines for students 16 and older in September 2021. Students attending in-person school or participating in extracurricular activities were supposed to be fully vaccinated by Jan 24. 

Under the district's mandate, medical exceptions are allowed but do not permit religious or personal belief exemptions.

A Scripps Ranch High School student, identified as Jill Doe in court documents, filed a federal suit in an attempt to prevent the district from enforcing the vaccine mandate. The lawsuit claimed that the district’s policy, which requires staff and students age 16 and older to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, would violate the student’s freedom to exercise her faith.

In November, the student’s request for a temporary restraining order against the school mandate was denied by a San Diego federal judge. Shortly after, the student’s lawyer’s announced they had appealed the ruling and were asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit for an emergency injunction by Nov. 29.

In December, San Diego Superior Court Judge John Meyer said the district's mandate, which does not permit religious or personal belief exemptions, contradicts state law because implementing such mandates without exemptions can only be imposed by the state legislature.

The student’s attorney, Paul M. Jonna, asked the supreme court to take the case in a Feb.11 letter, citing three “COVID-19 restriction cases” 

“In those cases, at least New York and California claimed their restrictions had already been lifted, though they could be reinstated. Here, however, the sword of Damocles still hangs over Jill’s head: The District promises only that the vaccine requirement will be delayed, at most a short while,” Jonna wrote. 

The letter stated that without the exemption, the student would be excluded from her classes and extracurricular activities. 

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