On Thursday, the eve of the San Antonio Independent School District’s (SAISD) deadline for staff to get vaccinated against COVID-19, the court issued a stay order that stops the district’s mandate.
The district is currently involved in a lawsuit with the State of Texas over the plan. Although SCOTX stopped the mandate, it has not yet decided to take up the case.
“Today we stay enforcement of San Antonio Independent School District’s policy requiring that all its employees be vaccinated for COVID-19 by October 15,” the opinion reads.
“This case, like those regarding local governmental entities’ authority to mandate the wearing of masks, challenges the legality of the Governor’s orders under the Texas Disaster Act. We have not yet had the opportunity to consider the merits of these challenges. Our role has been to issue orders preserving the status quo.”
Although it has not reached a final judgment in any of these cases yet, SCOTX has sided with Gov. Greg Abbott on a number of challenges to his prohibition on mask and vaccine mandates at the local government level. The court has halted mask mandates in San Antonio twice before as well as in Dallas and Laredo.
SAISD was reportedly the first school district in Texas to require vaccines for staff, defying Abbott’s order GA-35, issued April 5. SAISD implemented its employee vaccine mandate on August 16, and the state quickly sued.
Amid the lawsuit, the district walked back the requirement on August 20, saying that staff would only be required to get vaccines upon Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval. Coincidentally, the FDA then approved the first coronavirus vaccine just three days later, and the state dropped its claims against the district.
Just two days later, Abbott broadened his executive order with a revision: instead of forbidding mandates only for unapproved vaccines, Abbott banned government vaccine mandates for any COVID-19 vaccine, regardless of FDA approval. Thus, after a short period of compliance with the governor’s office, SAISD’s vaccine mandate once again defied the state. The state sued SAISD again on September 9, eventually bringing the case to SCOTX.
State law is relatively silent when it comes to vaccine requirements for teachers. Texas code explicitly requires some immunizations for students and children at daycare centers, but not for public school teachers.
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