The Los Angeles and San Diego school districts, the largest in California, are being sued over requirements that students be vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to attend class in person.
As the Los Angeles Times reports, the suits—which are both being handled by San Diego law firm Aanestad, Andelin & Corn—contend that the vaccines have not been tested enough and that the mandates would subject unvaccinated students to discrimination and deprive them of their equal right to public education.
The mandates issued by the Los Angeles and San Diego Unified School Districts are both stricter than the state rule, which itself is not yet officially law. LAUSD and SDUSD require students 16 and older to be vaccinated by the start of spring semester or to enroll in an independent study program. For LAUSD students, that means the City of Angels program, which is already struggling to accommodate the demands of over 15,000 students.
L.A. Unified is being sued by an unnamed parent, while the the San Diego suit was brought Monday by a parents’ group calling itself Let Them Breathe. Let Them Breathe already has litigation pending against California’s student mask mandate.
Deeming the mandates “unscientific and unlawful,” Breathe founder Sharon McKeeman told the Times, “Many parents want to see long-term studies of this new vaccine before they would consider getting their child vaccinated. Every student has a right to an in-person education under California law.”
Although the Pfizer vaccine is fully approved by the FDA for people 16 and older, LAUSD also requires students 12 to 15 to get the shots, a use that so far has only been granted emergency approval, and could remain that way until after the vaccination deadline—a situation that’s providing further ammunition for the mandate challengers.
The suits claim that COVID poses a “very low risk” to children and that they rarely spread the virus, positions with which many experts disagree. The American Academy of Pediatrics, for instance, recommends that everyone 12 and up get vaccinated.
The plaintiffs further argue that issuing mandates isn’t within the power of public school systems but “within the sole province” of the California Legislature and the state health department, but Health and Human Services boss, Dr. Mark Ghaly, has already come out in strong support for the mandates.
“I commend leaders across the state for leaning in on getting more young people vaccinated and connecting a requirement to attend in-person education,” Ghaly said in a message to the L.A. Board of Ed Tuesday. “We have a safe, effective and necessary tool to keep our schools moving forward.”
According to the nearly identical anti-vax suits, “Keeping healthy children out of the classroom is contrary to California law, is not necessary to reduce cases of COVID-19 in schools, and is not in the best interest of students, parents, or school districts.”
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