Federal Court of Appeal Supports School District’s Vaccine Mandate

SAN DIEGO – A federal court sided with the San Diego Unified School District on Saturday in the district’s efforts to issue a COVID-19 vaccine warrant for students and staff, according to SDUSD officials.

The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected an emergency attempt to interrupt the mandate, saying the district was acting in the best interests of its students.

“We take seriously our responsibility to create a safe environment for our students and staff, and to protect students at medical risk by getting vaccinated,” said Board Chairman Richard Barrera. “This latest decision recognizes that we have both the responsibility to protect students and the power to do so by implementing a vaccination mandate, which truly is our best hope as a country to bring this deadly disease under control. “

The decision comes two days after San Diego Superior Court Judge John Meyer dismissed a request for a temporary restraining order from an organization called Let Them Choose, seeking to stay the execution of the warrant.

Those who oppose the warrant have not shown that it was put in place to suppress religious beliefs, the court said.

On Sunday, judges agreed to temporarily suspend the warrant, which stemmed from an October lawsuit on behalf of a 16-year-old Scripps Ranch High School student, but overturned their decision.

“The majority of the Court correctly recognized that the legitimate interests of the district include protecting the health and safety of students whose health would be endangered by vaccination, by providing narrow medical exemption,” said San Diego Unified Lawyer Mark Bresee.

In order to continue learning in person, the SDUSD says it requires students 16 and older to be fully immunized, except for those with approved medical exemption. At least 72% of San Diego Unified students aged 16 or older have been fully immunized by Nov. 8, according to district data.

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