9th Circuit Halts San Diego Unified’s Vaccine Mandate

The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has temporarily blocked San Diego Unified’s student COVID-19 vaccination mandate. The mandate for dose 1 was supposed to take effect Monday but is now on hold.

The plaintiff is a 16-year-old Scripps Ranch High School student who says the district’s vaccine mandate violates her religious beliefs. The plaintiff has cited vaccine testing on fetal stem cell lines derived from abortions that occurred decades ago. This kind of testing is commonly used for vaccines and pharmaceuticals, including the common pain reliever Tylenol.

The district allows other exemptions, including for pregnant students, and a delay for homeless and foster youth. Consequently, the plaintiff’s attorney says the mandate is discriminatory against religious persons.

“SDUSD cannot treat students better if they seek exemption from vaccination for secular as opposed to religious reasons,” the attorney said. “The COVID regime of secular favorites but religious outcasts must end.”

If SDUSD removes the exemptions for pregnant students, the court will remove the temporary injunction and allow the mandate to take effect. The district says it plans to do just that, meaning the injunction should end shortly.

In the meantime, another San Diego school district is planning to offer an in-person option for unvaccinated students. The Alpine Union School District will launch the Alpine Choice Academy for the unvaccinated if California’s state mandate takes effect.

“This unique program is the first of its kind to provide in-person learning to students who will not attend school on campus if not vaccinated,” Superintendent Dr. Richard Newman announced in a letter. Newman says details about the academy will be released soon.