Court strikes down San Diego school district’s COVID vaccine mandate

California’s Fourth District Court of Appeal this week ruled against the San Diego Unified School District’s COVID-19 student vaccine requirement.

On Tuesday, an appellate court agreed with a lower court ruling last year that the school district did not have authority to establish its mandate.

The court rejected several defenses of the district’s own mandate, including that it is consistent with its responsibility to keep students safe, that programs can be tailored to meet “local needs,” and that the mandate is actually Not a mandate they must not comply because it allows for students to conduct independent study at home.

“We doubt that students and their parents perceive a real alternative. For some, independent study will likely be a step backwards,” it wrote.

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SAN DIEGO, CA - SEPTEMBER 28: Anti-vaccine protesters protest outside the San Diego Unified School District office to protest the order for forced vaccinations for students on September 28, 2021 in San Diego, California.

SAN DIEGO, CA – SEPTEMBER 28: Anti-vaccine protesters protest outside the San Diego Unified School District office to protest the order for forced vaccinations for students on September 28, 2021 in San Diego, California.
((Photo by Sandy Huffaker / Getty Images))

San Diego is examining the Unified Appeals Court’s decision and “will consider its next steps,” district spokesman Mike Murad said in an email to the Los Angeles Times.

In May, the district decided to stay the mandate — which would require students 16 and older to receive shots immediately attend school and participate in extracurricular activities — until at least July 2023. .

San Diego Unified School District signage is seen on a Navistar International Corp. school bus at the San Diego Unified School District Transportation Department on Thursday, July 9, 2020 in San Diego, California, US.

San Diego Unified School District signage is seen on a Navistar International Corp. school bus at the San Diego Unified School District Transportation Department on Thursday, July 9, 2020 in San Diego, California, US.
(Bing Guan/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Exemptions were allowed for medical reasons, but not based on personal beliefs.

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Mandate faced a legal challenge from parent group “Let Them Choose”, while filing a lawsuit in October 2021.

Protesters demonstrate outside the San Diego Unified School District office to protest a forced vaccination order for students on September 28, 2021 in San Diego, California.

Protesters demonstrate outside the San Diego Unified School District office to protest a forced vaccination order for students on September 28, 2021 in San Diego, California.
(Sandy Huffaker / Getty Images)

The group argued that the decision to mandate vaccines should be made at the state level and needed to include a “personal belief exemption”—unless the state legislature acted to eliminate the exemption.

The district first adopted its vaccine mandate for students in September 2021.

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It is one of several large school districts in California to announce such a mandate. Those with similar mandates include the Los Angeles, Oakland, Sacramento and West Contra Costa Unified School Districts.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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