Vaccine mandates in California’s two largest school systems challenged

A vial of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine
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California’s two largest school systems are facing legal challenges over their coronavirus vaccine mandates.

The San Diego Unified School District, which serves over 121,000 students, is facing a lawsuit from the anti-mask group Let Them Breathe seeking to enjoin the state from enforcing the school district’s vaccine mandate for students aged 12 and up.

The complaint filed Tuesday in the San Diego Superior Court argues the mandate is against the law.

“SDUSD’s mandate conflicts with state law, which does not permit local school boards to promulgate new vaccination requirements in addition to those already required by state law,” the complaint states.

Separately, a parent sued the Los Angeles Unified School District last Friday alleging that the district’s mandate puts their child at risk of being kicked out of a school that was hard to get into, according to CBS Los Angeles.

The parent says they don’t want their child, who attends The Science Academy STEM Magnet school, to be kicked out because the child is not vaccinated. The suit also alleges that the child will suffer irreparable harm if he is not allowed to continue his studies and extracurricular activities, the outlet reported.

Both school districts unveiled vaccine mandates for students last month ahead of California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announcing that the state would require students aged 12 and over to be vaccinated once the Food And Drug Administration grants full approval to a vaccine for that age group.

Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccine is fully approved for individuals aged 16 and older, and is authorized under emergency use for children ages 12 to 15. No vaccine is currently authorized for children under the age of 12. 

The Los Angeles district, which serves approximately 600,000 students, announced in early September that students 12 years old and over would need to be fully vaccinated by Jan. 10, 2022, unless the student gets a medical or other exemption. Students who want to participate in extracurricular activities have to receive their second vaccine dose by the end of the month.

Later in the month, the San Diego Unified School District announced that students ages 16 and up will need to be fully vaccinated by Dec. 20 in order to participate in in-person learning.  

Both districts allow for medical exemptions, but not exemptions for personal or religious beliefs, the Los Angeles Times noted.

Tags California coronavirus vaccine mandate Gavin Newsom Lawsuit public schools
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