The board of the San Diego Unified School District voted unanimously Tuesday evening to mandate vaccines for all staff and eligible students as a condition of in-person learning, according to reports.
The vote follows a similar decision by the Los Angeles Unified School District. Gov. Gavin Newsom also said this week that his office in discussing a statewide vaccine mandate with school districts but nothing has been decided.
Staff and students over 16 will be required to get vaccinated by Dec. 20 to allow the second dose to take full effect before the end of winter break, FOX 5 in San Diego reported.
Eligible students not vaccinated by the deadline will have to do an independent study. They also won’t be able to participate in sports or other after-school activities. Medical exemptions will be allowed but not religious or personal belief, according to KGTV in San Diego. Students who are in a military family, homeless, a foster child, a migrant or have an IEP may be conditionally enrolled in in-person learning.
The district’s Vaccination Roadmap takes a staggered approach to mandating student vaccinations that would line up with age group approvals from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, according to KGTV.
“It could not be more clear that this is the right move for us to take tonight,” Board President Richard Barrera said Tuesday.
Before the vote, the board took public comments.
“Your intentions may be good, but like the old saying goes, the road to hell is paved with good intentions,” elementary school teacher Brenda Taylor told the board, saying she spoke for the unvaccinated teachers and staff who were afraid of retaliation. “This flawed proposal that you’re hiding behind the word of science as if it’s absolute. We know that science is not perfect.”
Anti-vaccine protesters also staged a demonstration outside of the district office Tuesday.
Another public speaker Kevin Stevenson claimed those against the vaccine are drawing an “arbitrary line” between the coronavirus vaccine and all the others already required for students like chickenpox and measles, mumps, rubella.
“It doesn’t make any sense to me,” he said. “It’s crazy. I mean, COVID continues to threaten our kids, our teachers. We really do need to get this under control.”
Dawniel Stewart, a mother of three students in the district, said “We need to protect our children. Vaccines will do that.” She said she recently lost her brother-in-law, who was unvaccinated, to the disease.
Let Them Choose, an initiative launched by the group Let Them Breathe, which opposed mask mandates in schools, plans to bring a lawsuit over the vote.
“We’ve seen them before not honor parents’ voices and we hope they do. If they don’t, we’re ready to take legal action against a mandate if it’s passed,” founder Sharon McKeeman told FOX 5 before the vote.