SAN DIEGO — Catholic schools of the Diocese of San Diego will allow parents to request a personal belief exemption from a COVID-19 vaccination mandate, the organization said last week in a letter to its school pastors and principals.
The letter from the diocese Office for Schools states that while the list of required vaccinations can be expanded by the governor and state health authorities, if done so without legislative approval, law requires that any mandate include medical and personal belief exemptions.
“The consensus among legislative analysts with whom we have spoken is that it is unlikely that the legislature will give legislative approval for a mandate without a personal belief exemption,” the letter says. “Thus any parent would be able to seek a personal belief exemption for the Covid mandate.”
According to California state law, students in public, private and charter schools must be vaccinated for measles, mumps, polio and seven other diseases before enrolling in school. Only medical exemptions — not personal belief exemptions — are allowed for those 10 vaccinations, the letter said.
“We hope that this course of action by the diocese balances the need to protect the health of our students, teachers and staff with the rights of parents to decide issues vital to their children,” the letter said.
The letter comes one month after Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that California schoolchildren who attend class in person will be required to be vaccinated once the vaccine receives full approval.
The Food and Drug Administration authorized emergency use of the Pfizer vaccine for ages 5 to 11 last month. In May, emergency use authorization was expanded from individuals 16 and older to include adolescents 12 to 15.