Washington, DC is postponing its strict "no shots, no school" Covid vaccine policy for school children until 2023, pushing the requirement that students 12 and older get the Covid vaccination back from its original September 16 deadline.
DCist reports that Deputy Mayor for Education Paul Kihn confirmed Covid vaccine enforcement will not begin until January 3, 2023 when kids return from winter break and said, "To reduce the number of students who could be excluded from school at any one time, and to align schools and LEAs [local education agencies] to one unified notification and exclusion timeline, we are implementing staggered enforcement."
The policy itself remains the same and students could face expulsion if they do not comply with Covid mandates. The DC Council originally added the Covid vaccine to its list of required vaccinations via a bill in 2021 and the policy applies to students in all variations of DC schools, including public, private, parochial, and independent schools.
In late July the office of the State Superintendent of Education announced that all students ages 12 to 15 must receive at least one Covid vaccination by September 16. Further, students 16 and older were ordered to receive both Covid shots by the start of the school year.
According to the Council of the District of Columbia website, "No student shall be admitted by a school unless the school has certification of Covid-19 immunization for that student or the student is exempted."
The student can attend if they begin treatments within that 20 day window and have a note testifying that the immunization has begun and is continuing.
Despite the mandate, over 25 percent of DC students were still unvaccinated by August.
There are exemptions to the vaccine but for a student to be exempt a parent or guardian must provide evidence that the vaccine would violate their religious beliefs or if a doctor shows that the shot could prove harmful to the child.
According to the Daily Signal, Bowser said that there would be no virtual alternative to those students who don’t abide by the city’s vaccination policies.
According to city data cited by the outlet, over 40 percent of black adolescents and teens between the ages 12 to 17 are not vaccinated, leaving them with no learning options.
On Thursday a DC Superior Judge ruled that Mayor Muriel Bowser's Covid vaccine mandate which applies to all DC employees was unlawful. As students return to school, vaccine mandates will exist for children but not for the adults teaching them.
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