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San Diego Unified School board to vote on requiring vaccinations for eligible students and staff

If passed, the vote will mandate vaccinations for school employees, partners, contractors by Dec 20. Student timeline will be staggered based on age FDA approval.

SAN DIEGO — The San Diego Unified Board of Education will vote on the topic of making vaccinations mandatory for all eligible students and district employees on Tuesday evening during a scheduled meeting.  

If passed, the district would join the school districts in Los Angeles and Oakland which have already implemented a vaccine mandate.

According to an email sent out by the district to families, "about 65% of all eligible students and 80% of eligible employees are already at least partially vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus, according to the San Diego County Immunization Registry."

The board is recommending that all school employees, partners, contractors and other adults that work in direct contact with students and employees on school properties to be fully vaccinated before December 20, 2021.

Watch Live: San Diego Unified School District, Board of Education Meeting

The board is also recommending in their Vaccination Roadmap, "a staggered approach to have all eligible students vaccinated against COVID-19, as a condition of attending in-person learning." The specific timeline for age groups will be aligned with full FDA approval. 

The president of the school board said he’s heard both sides of the debate on whether or not to implement a vaccine mandate. On the eve of the vote, he said the board will do what they believe is safest for the students and staff members.

“How do we keep our students and our staff safe? And by the way, how do we keep our students and staff at school? It’s just not a good situation to have the instability of having to send people home to quarantine,” said Richard Barrera, Board President for San Diego Unified School District.  

Under the plan, the district will still require mandatory testing for all unvaccinated students until their age group receives full FDA approval.

"As a pediatrician, I won't talk about the ethics of mandating vaccines, but I will talk to you about the outcome of having that many more people vaccinated, and that outcome is excellent," said Dr. Howard Taras, a pediatrician consultant to the San Diego Unified School District who said he supports the idea of what LAUSD was doing after the announcement was made in early September.

Los Angeles Unified has about 600,000 students and is the largest public school district in California. San Diego Unified has about 120,000 students. 

"I think this is really a heavy moment for a lot of parents including myself because we have seen our kids choices and their freedoms limited over the past couple of years during this pandemic," said Sharon McKeeman, the founder of the group "Let them breathe."

She is now part of the "Let them choose" campaign. The group is threatening legal action should the school board pass the vaccine mandate. 

"My oldest son, I actually did not know if he was going to survive last year," said McKeeman. "It wasn't due to COVID, it was due to the school closures and restrictions and what it was doing to his mental health."

She said the only thing that helped him was resuming in-person learning in the classroom.

The Zoom link of the meeting on Tuesday can be found here.

WATCH RELATED: San Diego Unified schools will not have vaccine mandate yet (Sept 10 report)