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Judge rules against San Diego schools in COVID vaccine lawsuit

SAN DIEGO – A judge has spoken out against the San Diego public school system’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for students, saying the requirement set to start on January 24 conflicts with state law.

San Diego Superior Court Judge John Meyer ruled Monday that the San Diego Unified School District does not have the authority to establish its own vaccine mandate, NBC San Diego reported.

The Education Council voted unanimously on Tuesday to appeal the decision.

“Vaccines remain the best way to protect the health and safety of our students, and we are 100% committed to maintaining the immunization mandate,” the school district said in a message to staff and families.

The judge’s interim decision sided with the “Let Them Choose” parent group, which filed a complaint in October. The group argued that the decision to tax vaccines must be made at the state level and must also include a “personal creed exemption” – unless the state legislature acts to eliminate it. exemption.

All California public schools will eventually come under a state mandate requiring the COVID-19 vaccine for in-person school attendance, but no deadline has yet been set as the state requirement is tied to full approval of the vaccine by the Food and Drug Administration. .

Meanwhile, Gov. Gavin Newsom has encouraged local districts to impose their own mandates on students for the COVID-19 vaccine.

San Diego Unified announced in September that it would require all students aged 16 and over to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to attend in-person classes starting January 24. Unvaccinated students, unless they have a medical exemption, should be transferred to the Remote Neighborhood Learning Program, according to the Terms of Reference, which does not include exemptions from religious or personal beliefs.

In his ruling, Meyer said San Diego Unified will be required to allow students to attend in person as long as they have received all 10 state-mandated vaccines, which do not include the COVID-19 vaccine.

The judge also said state law requires independent study programs to be voluntary – and a forcible transfer into such a program violates state law.

Meyer has five days to sign Monday’s ruling during which the ruling cannot be enforced.

Mark R. Bresee, a lawyer for San Diego Unified, expressed disappointment with the decision.

The judge “concluded that only the state can act regarding vaccinations, even though the law specifically permits and encourages local vaccination programs,” Bresee said in a statement. “Even Judge Meyer acknowledged in his ruling that the vaccination mandate” appears to be necessary and rational, and the district’s desire to protect its students from COVID-19 is laudable. “

San Diego Unified is one of many large school districts in California to announce such mandates. Other districts with similar mandates include the Unified School Districts of Los Angeles, Oakland, Sacramento, and West Contra Costa.

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