Battle over San Diego Unified student vaccine mandate heads to another hearing

Posted at 7:55 AM, Dec 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-03 10:58:10-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — An effort to block the San Diego Unified School District’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for students was denied by a judge Thursday, but a full hearing on the issue was scheduled for later this month.

The group Let Them Choose has sought to permanently stop SD Unified’s vaccine mandate, and on Thursday, attorneys representing the organization stated their case for emergency action that would temporarily suspend enforcement of the district's requirement.

Officials with the group said they believe the district does not have the authority to put the mandate into place. The group also believes SD Unified is denying students’ personal belief exemptions.

However, San Diego Superior Court Judge John Meyer ruled Thursday against the effort to stop enforcement of the requirement.

"I'm not going to have a hearing of this magnitude without looking at what was filed," said Meyer.

Meyer then set a Dec. 20 date for a full hearing.

SD Unified’s mandate initially called for students aged 16 and over to have received their first vaccine dose by Dec. 1, with a second dose/full vaccination mandatory no later than Dec. 20.

As of Thursday’s hearing, the full vaccination date is Jan. 4, 2022, per the district.

Under the district’s plan, unvaccinated students 16 years of age or older would have to take part in an independent study program that is off-campus/virtual. Unvaccinated students would not be allowed to participate in extracurricular activities.

The mandate allowed for medical exemptions such as pregnancy.

Attorney Mark Bresee, who represents the school district in the lawsuit, said in a statement:

"This is obviously an important topic to many people, for many reasons. We are pleased that Judge Meyer took action to ensure that the matter is heard and decided soon, but with sufficient opportunity for the District and the Court to thoroughly address the legal claims before making a decision. He made the right decision."

Thursday’s hearing came days after a federal appeals court temporarily halted the district’s vaccine requirement following a lawsuit filed by a 16-year-old Scripps Ranch High School student and her parents.

The lawsuit claimed the girl’s religious beliefs prohibited her from getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

The temporary stop was expected to be lifted.