CHULA VISTA, Calif. — The Sweetwater Union High School District is walking back plans to implement a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for students, at least for now.
The district was threatened with a lawsuit from the parent advocacy group Let Them Choose, which recently was successful in a lawsuit against San Diego Unified.
Last month, the Sweetwater district board unanimously voted to impose a vaccine mandate for students and staff. Staff still must meet a Feb. 1 deadline to get the first dose or apply for an exemption, but plans for students currently are on hold.
“We sent the demand letter Dec. 13 and then the hearing against San Diego Unified was Dec. 20 so it’s been a while that we knew that Sweetwater was deliberating over whether they were going to walk back that mandate or go forward with it,” Let Them Choose founder Sharon McKeeman said, “and we were planning to move forward with litigation if they did and so it definitely is – it’s good to hear.”
A day after Sweetwater Union High students returned from winter break, the district put out a memo saying a vaccine mandate would no longer be in place for students wanting to participate in spring sports. That deadline was originally set for Feb. 5.
In the Let Them Choose lawsuit against San Diego Unified, a judge ruled school districts don’t have the legal authority to mandate a vaccine beyond what’s already required in California.
In that note from Sweetwater Union High, the district also writes it’s confident by the start of the 2022-23 school year, better direction will be provided from the state and possibly even full FDA approval of the vaccine for younger age groups.
“School districts can’t just put forward this patchwork of vaccine mandates,” McKeeman said. “We do know there is a state mandate that’s going to go forward. It sounds like at this point, but our parents are advocating to their representatives to not add the covid vaccine to the childhood list and to also protect personal belief exemption.”
Also in the area, the Chula Vista Elementary School District returned to the classroom this week. The district will hold a virtual town hall for parents at 6 p.m. Thursday to answer questions and address concerns.