San Diego Unified to discuss vaccine mandate for students, staff at next board meeting

Coronavirus

SAN DIEGO – The San Diego Unified School District announced Thursday it plans to discuss a possible COVID-19 vaccine mandate for eligible students and staff at its next board meeting, a week after Los Angeles Unified approved a similar measure.

It’s a topic during the Sept. 28 meeting that could remain a discussion or potentially turn into a vote, according to Richard Barrera, president of the district’s board.

“What will be included in our discussion is actually moving a step beyond that and requiring vaccines for staff without an option to get tested instead,” Barrera said.

The meeting will feature a proposed plan on how to implement such a mandate should the board move to approve the idea. However, Barrera said he’s aware some district parents don’t want to vaccinate their kids.

In that instance, he said San Diego Unified will make its online program available to those students.

“We need to have a discussion about our ability to staff up to meet the needs of students who would not come in person,” he said.

Sharon McKeeman, founder of the group Let Them Breathe, which has staged so-called “mask choice” rallies outside of school board meetings for months, argues the situation differs from the list of vaccines already required for students in California.

McKeeman threatened a lawsuit against the district if it moves forward with a COVID-19 vaccine mandate in the interest of protecting “students’ rights to choice and to access their in-person education.”

FOX 5 legal analyst Wendy Patrick says people are challenging what rules states, cities and school districts have the authority to implement and believes the issue is sure to go from the classroom to the courtroom.

“We may see some analogies being made to the workforce, but we’re probably just going to have to wait and see,” Patrick said. “What we can predict with some certainty is that there is already pushback and then there will be court cases filed.”

Patrick adds, “then based on how those are resolved, we’ll finally have some playground pandemic precedent that’ll really be informative for all of us.”

San Diego Unified’s next board meeting with be held entirely online and public speakers will be required to call in to address the board.

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