U.S. Supreme Court declines emergency order against San Diego Unified school COVID vaccination mandate

Court gavel

The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to grant an emergency order blocking the San Diego Unified School District from enforcing its COVID-19 vaccination requirement, citing the district’s decision to delay implementing the policy.

“Because respondents have delayed implementation of the challenged policy, and because they have not settled on the form any policy will now take, emergency relief is not warranted at this time,” according to a one-page statement the court issued Feb. 18.

The nation’s highest court left open the chance that it would reconsider taking the case should circumstances change.

The issue arose from a federal lawsuit brought by a Scripps Ranch High School student who wanted the court to prevent the district from enforcing its vaccination mandate because it did not allow religious exemptions for students.

The school board in September approved the mandate for staff and students 16 and older. Students were supposed to be fully vaccinated to attend school in person or participate in extracurricular activities starting Jan. 24.

A Feb. 11 letter from the student’s attorney Paul Jonna asked the high court to take the case despite what he said was a district statement that it “may advance that requirement piecemeal, with the ‘requirement for in-person instruction’ not being implemented prior to August, and the ‘requirement for non-instructional activities’ (including the sports [the student] participates in) potentially being implemented after the board’s next meeting on [Tuesday] Feb. 22.”

“The district promises only that the vaccine requirement will be delayed, at most a short while,” according to Jonna’s letter.

A district representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

— La Jolla Light staff contributed to this report.