“[T]he Texas Disaster Act expressly limits the Governor’s commander-in-chief authority to state agencies, state boards, and state commissions having emergency responsibilities,” Texas Fourth Court of Appeals Justice Irene Rios wrote in the memorandum opinion, issued July 27.
“The District is not a state agency, a state board, or a state commission.”
When SAISD implemented a vaccine requirement for staff last August, it defied Governor Greg Abbott’s executive order against vaccine mandates. However, that order only forbade public authorities from requiring workers to get COVID-19 vaccines not yet approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). After a lawsuit from the state, SAISD walked back the requirement.
SAISD continued to enforce its vaccine mandate, prompting another state lawsuit on essentially the same grounds.
The state asked the lower court to grant an order blocking the mandate. When the court declined to issue the temporary injunction, the state appealed to the Fourth Court of Appeals.
Additionally, the Texas Disaster Act authorizes the governor to “control ingress and egress to and from a disaster area” during a catastrophe.
Rios said a vaccine mandate does not directly involve this authority.
“Moreover, nothing in the District’s vaccine mandate precludes individuals from entering the schools within the district because they are not vaccinated,” the opinion reads.
“Instead, the District’s vaccination mandate specifically applies only to employees as a condition of employment, not as a condition of ‘ingress and egress,’ ‘occupancy of premises,’ or ‘movement of persons within the school district.’”
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