San Diego Unified to consider vaccine mandate at Tuesday board meeting

Coronavirus

SAN DIEGO – The San Diego Unified School District Board of Education meets Tuesday to consider a proposed COVID-19 vaccine mandate for all eligible students and staff.

San Diego Unified initially announced its board only was scheduled to discuss the topic during its Sept. 28 meeting, but the mandate now appears on the board’s agenda. The meeting comes for the state’s second-largest school district after Los Angeles Unified, California’s largest district, mandated that all students ages 12 and over be vaccinated against COVID-19.

District leaders also are drafting a plan that would make being vaccinated against COVID-19 a condition of employment, according to Richard Barrera, president of the district’s board.

A “Vaccination Roadmap” has been laid out on the district’s website. It includes a Dec. 20 deadline for employees to be fully vaccinated. If the mandate is approved, it includes not only district employees but also contractors and any other adults who come on campus to work with students.

For students, the district proposes a tiered approach as the COVID-19 vaccine does not yet have full FDA approval for certain age groups. Those students would need to submit to regular testing and any eligible students forgoing the vaccine would be moved to a virtual academy.

“We do not plan to honor personal belief or religious exemptions,” Barrera said. “We will, of course, honor medical exemptions if there is a medical reason that somebody cannot be vaccinated. We will work with that individual.”

Those against a vaccine mandate in schools have promised legal action if San Diego Unified approves this plan on Tuesday. They argue students can’t be forced into distance learning and that the COVID-19 vaccine is not on the state’s list of vaccines required in schools by law, meaning a personal belief exemption may still be applicable.

“We firmly believe it’s the right of a school district to take necessary precautions so that everybody has the choice to safely go to school,” Barrera said.

Tuesday’s San Diego Unified board meeting begins at 5 p.m. and is being held virtually. Public comments can be made in writing or by calling in.

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