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Texas AG sues San Antonio ISD over vaccine mandate for staff

The Attorney General's office is arguing SAISD's vaccine requirement violates an executive order set in place by Gov. Abbott

SAN ANTONIO — Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is suing the San Antonio Independent School District and its superintendent for mandating employees be vaccinated from COVID-19.

SAISD became the first district to require teachers and staff to receive the COVID-19 vaccine Monday after a Bexar County judge issued a temporary injunction against Texas Governor Greg Abbot's executive order banning mask mandates. The district will also require all students and staff to wear masks, consistent with a directive issued by Bexar County Medical Director Junda Woo earlier in August.

"We are being proactive to protect the health and safety of those we hold dear," SAISD Superintendent Pedro Martinez said in a statement following that decision. Martinez is named in the attorney general's lawsuit, which alleges the district and superintendent "are deliberately violating state law."

"In flouting GA-38’s ban on vaccination mandates, Defendants challenge the policy choices made by the State’s commander in chief during times of disaster," the lawsuit reads. Read the full lawsuit here.

SAISD issued the following statement in response to the lawsuit Thursday evening:

"We cannot comment on pending litigation. Separate from that, it is our state and federal responsibility to protect children in our charge, and we will continue to act in the best interests of our students, families and community. We will continue to adhere to the directives from our local health authority and guidance from the CDC in order to be the most responsive to what our immediate community is demanding and expecting from us."

As the highly contagious delta variant continues to run rampant across the San Antonio area, forcing local hospitals into severe stress with thousands of COVID-19 patients hospitalized, school districts are contemplating methods -- including mandating masks -- to keep students and staff safer.

"I think he is a hero because he is trying to protect children," said Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff. "What are the penalties for that? What can they do to him? I don't know. I am not sure the penalties would be. I don't think they can take funding away from school districts."

SAISD announced this week they were canceling football scrimmages against outside school districts unless SAISD student-athletes and coaches are vaccinated. The district will host vaccine clinics this week to give students who have not been vaccinated a chance to get their shot. 

SAISD is also doing rapid testing before games and requiring masks unless a person is doing drills or in a game.

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